Financial Troubles Hit Oregon Partnership Crisis Lines

September 22, 2008

 Oregon Partnership’s 24-hour crisis lines are reflecting the stress and strain of an economy that sees more people out of work, homeowners unable to pay their mortgages, and families worried about their savings.

“It stands to reason that when the unemployment rate goes up and prices do too, so does the tension level for more Oregonians,” said Leslie Storm, Director of Oregon Partnership’s Crisis Line Program. “And of course, that’s been compounded by what’s going on in the housing market and on Wall Street.”

Storm notes that during the last couple of months, callers have been mentioning job and money issues.

“The great majority of our calls are from those in crisis as a result of drugs and alcohol,” explained Storm. “But it seems that all the implications of the economy are having an impact too.”

Oregon Partnership’s HelpLine  (1-800-923-HELP) provides crisis intervention, including confidential alcohol and drug crisis counseling and treatment referral. 

OP’s Suicide Prevention Line (1-800-273-TALK) is the state’s only suicide crisis hotline certified by the American Association of Suicidology and is part of the National LifeLine Network.

Operated by experienced staff and approximately 75 volunteers who undergo 56 hours of crisis line skills training, the four lines – including The YouthLine and Linea de Ayuda –  are the lifeblood for those in crisis and feel they have nowhere else to turn.

Oregon Partnership’s crisis lines have been offering intervention and treatment referral to an increasing number of callers. For this past fiscal year, more than 25-thousand people received immediate assistance from this efficient and cost effective operation.
About Oregon Partnership:
Oregon Partnership is a statewide nonprofit that has worked to promote healthy kids and communities for well over a decade by raising awareness about drug and alcohol issues, providing prevention education in classrooms, and 24-hour crisis lines for people needing help. To learn more, visit www.orpartnership.org.

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Factual Arguments Against the Amethyst Initiative!

September 12, 2008

 

The Amethyst Initiative, founded by John McCardell, President Emeritus of Middlebury College and founder of a group called Choose Responsibility, calls for a national debate on lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18 and has more than 100 college presidents signed on. Presidents of Lewis & Clark, Pacific University, and Willamette University are among them.

McCardell has been an ardent supporter of lowering the drinking age, and although he calls for a “debate,” his views are clearly known.

The flawed rationale behind the initiative is that if the drinking age is lowered, fewer college students would drink, we wouldn’t have the problems with alcohol on college campuses, and that colleges would have more control over campus drinking.

The backers also say that lowering the drinking age would result in more students drinking in campus pubs as opposed to areas where there is no authority, such as dorm rooms and frat houses.

DO WE THINK THIS IS A GOOD IDEA?

No! It’s a terrible idea with horrendous implications. Every one of their arguments is flawed. There isn’t a shred of evidence that any of the arguments would achieve desired results!

Every national alcohol and drug prevention group – including MADD, CSPI, CADCA and others – strongly oppose the initiative, saying that the facts are clear: The current drinking age is a good thing that saves thousands of lives a year. Lowering it would cause a myriad of problems, not the least of which include more teens drinking, more deaths on the highways, and more injuries and sexual assaults.

SO WHY WOULD ALL THESE COLLEGE PRESIDENT SIGN ON?

College presidents have largely been unsuccessful in controlling campus drinking and in particular, binge drinking, and some think that by lowering the drinking age, many of their problems would go away.

Although it is hardly ever mentioned by the presidents, it would stand to reason that they would solve a lot of their liability problems if the drinking age is raised. Some colleges have been named in lawsuits by parents of students who have died or been injured as a result of alcohol.

DOES THIS PROPOSAL HAVE ANY CHANCE OF BECOMING REALITY?

The MADD leadership says it is doubtful because if states decided to lower the drinking age, they’d lose 10% of their federal highway funding. That’s a big bite in already shrinking state budgets. The Minimum Age Drinking Law was passed in the mid-80’s, and a number of states that had a drinking age of 18 raised it to 21.

But it is vitally important that we use this “debate” as an opportunity to build awareness and to convince the public – not to mention college presidents – why lowering the drinking age would be a disaster. We cannot allow this proposal to gather steam.

At the same time, we should be addressing all the ways that underage drinking CAN be addressed on college campuses, and in our communities.

PREVENTION HAS SEEN SUCCESSESFUL SINCE THE MINIMUM DRINKING AGE WAS RAISED TO 21 IN ALL 50 STATES.

*The 2007 “Monitoring the Future” survey shows that 28% of high school seniors have never used alcohol, compared to 8% in 1984 before states raised the drinking age to 21.

*According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 25,000 lives have been saved because of fewer accidents involving young drivers who had been drinking.

*In the early 70s, a number of states lowered the drinking age and nighttime fatal crashes increased 17% in the 18-20 age group.

RESEARCHERS HAVE CONFIRMED THAT TEEN DRINKING HAS LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES.

*The adolescent brain is not fully developed until the early to mid-20s. As a result, alcohol use prior to age 21 can hamper brain development and function.

*Youth who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four more times likely to develop alcohol dependence as an adult than those who wait until age 21.

*The National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol Related Conditions indicates that of adults diagnosed with alcohol dependence, 47% met the criteria before 21.

LOWERING THE DRINKING AGE WOULD TRANSFER THE PROBLEM TO OUR NATION’S HIGH SCHOOLS.

It would strengthen the perception among younger teens that if the drinking age is 18, it’s probably OK for them too.

WHAT ABOUT THE ARGUMENT THAT IF YOU’RE OLD ENOUGH TO FIGHT FOR YOUR COUNTRY, YOU’RE OLD ENOUGH TO DRINK?

*Lowering the drinking age is a health and safety issue. Military leadership has seen the clear and dangerous effects of alcohol on morale, readiness, and combat effectiveness.

*Every branch of the military is focusing more and more attention on alcohol education and responsible drinking campaigns with impressive results.

*Instead of touting military service as a reason to drink younger, civilian leaders should turn to the military as role models on how to achieve significant results with the current age standards.

WHAT ABOUT THE ARGUMENT THAT IF YOU’RE OLD ENOUGH TO VOTE, YOU’RE OLD ENOUGH TO DRINK?

*Again, it’s a health and safety issue. 18-year olds can vote without endangering their health, their lives and the lives of others.

*Alcohol has harmful effects on adolescent brains. Voting doesn’t.

IT IS OFTEN ARGUED THAT LOWERING THE DRINKING AGE WOULD HELP YOUNG PEOPLE TO LEARN TO DRINK RESPONSIBLY – LIKE THEY DO IN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES.

A common perception is that alcohol is a bigger problem with American young people compared with young people in European countries, which have more liberal drinking age laws. Studies show, however, that compared to the United States, a larger percentage of young people from nearly all European countries report drinking in the past 30 days. And a larger percentage of young people from most European countries report binge drinking, defined as five or more drinks in a row.

Great Britain is one of the countries currently suffering from an epidemic of severe alcohol-related problems. Abuse of alcohol has grown drastically in the last few years, among underage drinkers as well as among adults of all age groups. These problems can be traced directly to deregulation of both on-premise and off-premise sales of alcohol.

Other European countries are also taking measures to reduce the growing incidence of underage drinking, including Ireland and Norway.

SO WHAT SUGGESTIONS DO WE HAVE FOR COLLEGE PRESIDENTS?

*It’s time for real leadership in formulating campus alcohol policies, instead of administrators dreaming up ways to limit potential liability.

*College presidents should engage students in developing a set of principles designed to create a campus environment that de-emphasizes the role of heavy drinking in student life.

*Any such policy should include strengthening efforts to educate parents of incoming freshman, to provide confidential counseling and intervention services for students, and to bolster campus and community enforcement.

*Colleges must inform and educate students and their parents about the wide range of consequences of binge drinking. A very strong correlation exists between student drinking and physical and sexual assault, depression, anxiety, and school failure. And as alarming, is alcohol poisoning from binge drinking that can result in death.

*College administrators need to communicate loud and clear the overriding message to students, parents, trustees, and alumni: that alcohol is off limits if you’re not 21.

* College students drink more that those in the same age group that are not in college. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s program, A Matter of Degree, studied this issue for many years. They found that the more actions taken by a community and the college, the lesser the drinking problems.

NOTE: The above is very basic information. Please check the following websites for more specifics on “Support 21.”

MADDwww.madd.org/Parents/UnderageDrinking.aspx

CADCAwww.cadca.org/CoalitionResources/publicpolicy/support21.asp

NIAAAwww.niaaa.nih.gov/AboutNIAAA/NIAAASponsoredPrograms/drinkingage

NHTSAwww.nhtsa.dot.gov/

CDCwww.cdc.gov/alcohol/quickstats/mlda.htm


Yes! Miller-Coors sued over alcoholic energy drinks.

September 8, 2008

WASHINGTON—The nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest today filed suit against MillerCoors Brewing Company, formerly Miller, over its alcoholic energy drink, Sparks. The product has more alcohol than regular beer and contains unapproved additives, including the stimulants caffeine and guarana. The lawsuit is asking the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to stop MillerCoors from selling the controversial drink, which is also under scrutiny from state attorneys general.

Drinkers of caffeinated alcoholic drinks are more likely to binge drink, ride with an intoxicated driver, become injured, or be taken advantage of sexually than drinkers of non-caffeinated alcoholic drinks, according to a 2007 study conducted at Wake Forest University.

Sparks contain 6 to 7 percent alcohol by volume, as opposed to regular beer, which typically has 4 or 5 percent alcohol. Also unlike beer, Sparks’ appeal to young people is enhanced by its sweet citrusy taste, redolent of SweeTarts candy, and the bright color of orange soda. (Sparks Light also contains the artificial sweetener sucralose). In October, MillerCoors plans to release Sparks Red, which will have 8 percent alcohol by volume.

“MillerCoors is trying to hook teens and ’tweens on a dangerous drink,” said CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner. “This company’s behavior is reckless, predatory, and in the final analysis, likely to disgust a judge or a jury.”

Sparks’ juvenile web site and guerilla marketing appeal to young consumers, according to CSPI. The web site offers a recipe for a drink called a “Lunchbox,” consisting of half Miller beer and half Sparks, and elsewhere, the site proposes consuming Sparks for breakfast alongside omelets. The company also hosts give-aways of Sparks at house parties, sponsors events unrelated to beer such as art shows, and engages in other unconventional marketing practices, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. CSPI’s court filing notes that private gatherings such as house parties do not have the same licensing or other safeguards as public establishments that prevent minors from accessing alcohol.

“Mix alcohol and stimulants with a young person’s sense of invincibility and you have a recipe for disaster,” said George A. Hacker, director of CSPI’s alcohol policies project. “Sparks is a drink designed to mask feelings of drunkenness and to encourage people to keep drinking past the point at which they otherwise would have stopped. The end result is more drunk driving, more injuries, and more sexual assaults.”

According to a 2006 study, the stimulants in these products do not reduce alcohol’s negative effects on motor skills and reaction times but do impair people’s perception of intoxication. As a result, drinkers may engage in risky behavior, such as driving, because they feel less drunk but in reality are too intoxicated to get behind wheel.

CSPI’s lawsuit also contends that it is illegal to use caffeine, guarana, ginseng, and taurine in alcoholic beverages. The federal agency with primary responsibility for regulating alcoholic beverages, the Treasury Department’s Tax and Trade Bureau, says alcoholic beverages may contain only ingredients considered General Recognized as Safe, or GRAS, by the Food and Drug Administration. But the FDA has given only very narrow approval for caffeine and guarana—with no allowance for alcoholic drinks—and no approval for ginseng in any food or beverage. Taurine is only approved for use in chicken feed, not human food.

In February, CSPI notified Anheuser-Busch and Miller of its intent to sue both companies over caffeinated alcoholic drinks. In June, Anheuser-Busch entered into separate agreements with CSPI and 11 state attorneys general in which the brewer agreed to take caffeine and other unapproved additives out of its two alcoholic energy drinks, Bud Extra and Tilt. Anheuser-Busch paid the 11 states $200,000 to reimburse them for the cost of the investigation and called on other brewers and distillers not to market pre-packaged caffeinated alcoholic drinks.

That agreement with Anheuser-Busch was the first alcohol-related accomplishment for CSPI’s litigation project. Since its founding in 2005, CSPI’s litigation unit has, on its own or in cooperation with private law firms, negotiated settlements or voluntary changes to marketing practices with Airborne, Kellogg, Frito-Lay, Quaker Oats, and others.


Say No to Lowering the Drinking Age to 18!

September 2, 2008

 

Let college presidents, elected officials and parents know NOW that lowering the drinking age is unacceptable, irresponsible and dangerous!

The recent news about how 100 college presidents have signed on to the so-called Amethyst Initiative cannot be ignored by any of us. The time to act is now.

As every bit of evidence tells us, it would be a national tragedy to turn back the clock and lower the drinking age from 21 to 18.

Tens of thousands of lives have been saved since the mid-80’s when the minimum drinking age of 21 reached all 50 states. This self-serving initiative that lets college presidents off the hook would only increase teenage drinking, thereby escalating an already-serious health crisis in our country.

Instead of debating a lower drinking age and dreaming up ways to limit potential liability, university officials need to formulate campus alcohol policies.

Oregon Partnership’s President/CEO Judy Cushing just returned from a national conference on underage drinking sponsored by the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center. Opposition to the Amethyst Initiative was loud and clear, yet we can use this as an opportunity to raise awareness about the dangers of lowering the drinking age.

Here are some things you can do:

Get educated on the issue by visiting a few of these websites: why21.orgcollegedrinkingprevention.orgnew-futures.orgMADD.

Write or email college presidents in your area – those who may have signed on and those who haven’t. Thank the presidents not on the list.
Write or email members of Congress, your governor and elected state officials.
Feel free to use the arguments included in the Oregon Partnership Op-Ed

Oregon Partnership Op-Ed

Click here to view the list of college presidents who have signed the Amethyst Initiative.