Letter: Chemical Health Initiative deserves your supportAs Goodhue County Board members, we want to acknowledge our continued support and hard work of the Goodhue County Chemical Health Initiative in creating a societal network to reduce underage use of chemicals.
By: Goodhue County commissioners, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
As Goodhue County Board members, we want to acknowledge our continued support and hard work of the Goodhue County Chemical Health Initiative in creating a societal network to reduce underage use of chemicals. We encourage all county residents to work with urgency on reducing social problems that add hundreds of thousands of dollars to our annual county budget.
Specifically, we are concerned about the ever increasing economic costs associated with substance abuse disorders. County expenditures for the social consequences attributable to alcohol abuse and dependency constitute a large proportion of county residents’ annual tax bills.
The National Academy of Sciences recently released “Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility.” This report itemizes the monumental fiscal impact of problems associated with and attributable to the “numbing consequences of underage drinking.” Reaching across all sectors of community life from traffic safety, public health, education and public safety, the financial toll taken by the problems of substance abuse is indeed numbing.
The connection between underage drinking and substance abuse disorders in the adult population is the critical message that needs to be understood by all Goodhue County residents; young people who begin drinking at ages younger than 15 are four times more likely to develop substance abuse disorders in adulthood.
Substance abuse disorders among our adult population are estimated to cost every person in Minnesota over $900 each year. Health care expenditures for medical consequences of alcohol use and the treatment and prevention of alcohol use disorders in Minnesota amount to over $650 million every year.
But the costs of underage drinking go far beyond the statistical reality that today’s underage drinkers are tomorrow’s adults experiencing substance use difficulties. Underage drinking, as characterized in the aforementioned report, “reaches in the future by impeding normal development and constricting future opportunities.” Underage drinking places our young people at serious risk of harm.
Life-altering effects of underage drinking include dangerous sexual activity that leads to serious diseases and unwanted pregnancies, school failures, unintentional injuries and death. Underage drinking is not a normal part of growing up. It is an activity that compromises our children’s lives and futures.
Goodhue County citizens need to unite to change community attitudes and behaviors that condone or accept all practices that place our children’s healthy development in jeopardy.
The Chemical Health Initiative is working to create a broad societal commitment to reduce underage drinking because the problem cannot be successfully addressed by focusing on youthS alone. As the National Academy of Sciences has pointed out, “efforts to reduce underage drinking need to focus on adults and must engage the society at large.”
The CHI solicits participation in this effort from all sectors of our community at both the county and local community levels. The Goodhue County Board strongly supports the work of the CHI in its population-based prevention strategies that involve our schools, businesses, parents, civic organizations, health care providers, faith-based organizations, law enforcement, senior citizens, and young people.
We encourage all county citizens and taxpayers to support the CHI in its pro-social initiatives that are aimed at building a Goodhue County community that keeps all of its citizens safe and healthy.
Chairman, District 3