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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: May 21, 2012


NEW CASTLE (May 21, 2012) - Open Door, Inc. will host the next in a series of Delaware town hall meetings on underage drinking at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at its location in Odessa. The town hall meetings are coordinated by the state Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

The public meetings are open to everyone, but especially targeted to teens and their families. They are meant to raise awareness about the health dangers and safety risks of underage drinking and alcohol abuse in general. During the town hall meetings, prevention specialists lead the discussion on specific strategies that have proven effective in mobilizing community action around education and the prevention of underage drinking.

Open Door is a nonprofit that provides behavioral health services, including substance abuse, mental health and psychosocial services. Its Odessa location is at 118 S. Sixth St. For more information, contact Alana Wilder at (410) 398-4060.

In Delaware, 29.1 percent of young people ages 12-20 reported past-month alcohol use and 19.8 percent reported past-month binge drinking, according to a 2009 analysis of Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and National Survey on Drug Use and Health data. For those ages 18-20, the past-month alcohol use jumped to 55.2 percent and past-month binge drinking climbed to 41.7 percent.

"Every parent should be talking to their children about underage drinking, especially now," said Governor Jack Markell. "These meetings help engage parents, teens and the community in conversations that can help prevent young people from consuming alcohol and compromising some of the many opportunities that await them."

Each year in the United States, about 5,000 people younger than 21 die as the result of underage drinking. In Delaware in 2009, there were 13 alcohol-attributable deaths of people younger than 21.

"As a community, we can save lives by talking about underage drinking and educating young people and their parents about the dangers associated with it,"said Rita Landgraf, Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services. "These town hall meetings are another way to encourage those discussions and to embrace specific strategies to address this societal problem."

The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health will use information gathered in the town hall meetings in its state plan to provide substance abuse and mental health services.

For more information about the town hall meetings, contact Isabel Rivera-Green, Certified Prevention Specialist, at (302) 255-4722, or Uzoamaka Chinelo Aneke, a SAMHSA/CSAP Delaware Prevention Fellow, at (302) 255-9477.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.