Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007 | I am the Executive Director of an alcohol and drug treatment programs that services many of the counties in the Northern state. We specialize in treating pregnant women, and women accompanied by their minor children in residential and then outpatient treatment. The devastation suffered by these women in terms of both their addiction and the trauma suffered in their lives is incredible.

One of the strongest preventions for this population is to delay the onset of drinking and/or using drugs as long as possible. Many studies show that the earlier a person drinks the greater the probability that they will become addicted to mind altering substances. The “alcopops” are both an initial beverage of choice for girls that do not like the taste or image of drinking beer, but it is also a gateway to more strongly mixed drinks and/or drugs. When the logic leaves the brain, traumatic events occur sexually and socially, and violence becomes the norm.

The BOE changing the tax status is a great start; limiting the distribution by ABC also reclassifying it as a distilled spirits and taking it out of the Mom & Pop and convenience stores would be another giant step forward. Finally, the appropriate labeling of the drink prominently identifying it as an alcoholic drink would be another great move.

The combination of these three items would do more for teen alcohol and other drug prevention than the potential 40 million dollars could do. The combination of the money for prevention and the limited distribution of a well marked expensive “alcopop” drink would work very well together to reduce the number of women and their families requiring my services.

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