The Live Healthy Douglas – Alcohol Prevention Program recently launched “Be the Wall,” a multi-media campaign intended to encourage and support parents, retailers, and community members in their efforts to keep teens from drinking.

Over the next year, Live Health Douglas and its partners will ask the community to “Be the Wall” between teens and alcohol. The simply stated campaign is designed on the premise that while alcohol may be the primary substance of choice for teens across the state and country, underage drinking should be the single most preventable at risk behavior among our teenagers. “Underage drinking comes down to access –if our teens cannot get their hands on it, they cannot use it, commented Cathy Wendholt-McDade, Director of Healthy Behaviors at Cobb & Douglas Public Health. “We are asking all community members to help us limit access to alcohol for teens once and for all.”

According to the Georgia Student Health Survey the age of onset for youth who choose to drink is 13 and has been for the last two years in Douglas County. A community assessment completed in 2012 revealed that 48% of 18-25 year olds feel their parents accept their drinking and that well over half of the parents in their community allow alcohol at parties hosted by their children. Current research indicates that the teen brain is still developing until the mid twenties. The introduction of alcohol, may impair brain development. The developing teen brain also makes teens more impulsive and less likely to consider consequences of their behavior – for this reason, the campaign encourages all adults to be firm, clear and consistent when talking with teens about alcohol.

The multi-media “Be the Wall” campaign is provided by the Georgia Strategic Prevention System (GSPS). GSPS is a state grant with a multilevel network-based system aimed to prevent substance use and abuse and promote healthy choices and lifestyles among Georgians by implementing sustainable evidence-based strategies (programs, policies, and practices). This social norms campaign is just one of many strategies aimed to address Douglas County’s specific goal to, “Reduce the early onset of alcohol use among 9-20 year olds.”

For questions or for more information, contact Cathy Wendholt-McDade at (770) 432-1980 or by email at cwmcdade@dhr.state.ga.