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Fighting Mississippi’s Underage Drinking Epidemic

By Daniel Cherry | Published 29 May 2012 09:36pm | comments

About one in five young people in Mississippi reported binge drinking last year. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how drinking prevention advocates are working to get a problem they're calling an epidemic, under control.

Luann Moore travels around Central Mississippi, showing teens the dangers of drinking and driving. About ten years ago she was driving her motorcycle when a drunk driver hit her head on.

"When the foot came off, I lost about 6 pints of blood on the side of the road before help had actually came. The end result was I had to have my left leg amputated."

The driver who hit Moore was in his 50's, but she's focusing her efforts on teenagers, to stop drinking and driving before it becomes a problem. Mississippi has some of the highest underage drinking numbers in the nation according to Daisy Carter, State Director of the National Council for Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Carter hopes to change that culture.

"It's almost like people think it's a community norm, but we want them to know it is not a community norm. We want them to know it's illegal and unacceptable in our communities, and we have to put that out there."

Underage drinking costs Mississippi hundreds of millions of dollars each year. The state Department of Health estimates about two thousand dollars per teen. Shantay Griffith, with Mississippi Mothers Against Drunk Driving says many of these issues could be solved if parents would just talk to their children about the dangers of alcohol.

"We're going to actually develop ways in which we can have positive communication with the children and let the parents know that it's not just a one time thing, but on a continuous basis."

On average youth who drink in Mississippi, start when they're 12 years old. 

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