ASAP Targets Three Areas in Battle Against Alcohol Abuse

Community prevention specialist, Thom Gabrukiewicz with Sheridan County's Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention, leads the discussion at Monday's meeting. (Photo by Chris Foy)
Community prevention specialist, Thom Gabrukiewicz with Sheridan County's Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention, leads the discussion at Monday's meeting. (Photo by Chris Foy)

The Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention for Sheridan County met Monday to discuss strategic plans to intervene when it comes to alcohol abuse, or use by minors.

Over the next 12 months, the Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention will be focusing its efforts related to alcohol abuse in three specific areas, ranging from media campaigns, legislation and community organization.

Originally the group planned on talking through plans to deal with tobacco, other drugs and suicide prevention, but the topic of alcohol is a big one and the group faces many challenges. But it has the support of the Sheridan Police Department and various city and county agencies. Sheridan Police Chief Richard Adriaens.

After taking into consideration a vote by those attending, the group decided to move forward with a media campaign focusing on the health effects of alcohol on an underage, undeveloped brain.

The group will also be seeking mandatory training for servers providing alcohol in Sheridan County through the Training for Intervention Procedures program (TIPS) that's mandatory in some counties elsewhere in the state. Currently in Sheridan and Johnson counties, TIPS training is voluntary for servers and can be a requirement if a vendor is cited for selling to a minor.

The coalition will begin to formulate plans for events in the area that serve as a family-friendly alternative for the community, where alcohol does not play a significant role. But how large is its role? Chief Adriaens says take a look at the criminal justice statistics. He says between 72 and 81 percent of all arrests in Sheridan are alcohol-related. By comparison, nine percent of all arrests involve some other type of drugs.

During last year's street dance, Chief Adriaens says 44 tickets were issued for minors in possession of alcohol. Many of those in attendance said community events should not put alcohol on a pedestal or glorify the substance by having it play a prominent role in large events - which some said could help diminish it's importance to youth.

The alliance will move forward and formulate action plans to follow through with these three strategies. But the work is far from over. Chief Adriaens.

The next meeting of the Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention will take place on February 25th at noon, at the Holiday Inn in Sheridan. Community members are welcome to attend.

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