Alcohol Delivery

Effectively Engaging Youth

Nigel Wrangham during his opening keynote presentation.

Nigel Wrangham is a youth and leadership trainer who understands that youth are an integral part of an organization’s activities—not just a box to check off.

He recently addressed our Statewide Summit attendees and urged them to forge real partnerships with young people.

He believes engaging youth and utilizing their skills is the most effective way to create community change. He has personal experience working with groups of young people and their allies to help them influence policy, advocate for social change, and summon the courage to act consciously from their core principles. He understands that nourishing youth-adult partnerships creates powerful tools for change.

We heard him talk a lot during his presentation about “being a bit radical” and “stepping outside your comfort zone.” But for Wrangham, these aren’t just soundbites. He offered examples for coalitions and other groups, such as recruiting youth from unexpected places, involving youth in strategic planning and organizational decision-making, and knowing how to recruit new young people as others “age out” of our coalitions.

It is clear from the conversation and audience questions that many of our partners and allies are working with youth to some degree, but haven’t yet unlocked the full potential of the youth in their communities. For those interested in learning more about working with youth, Texans Standing Tall created a Community Engagement Guide as a tool to help coalitions more effectively engage youth in their local prevention efforts. To learn more about this guide, or to receive training on adult-youth partnerships in prevention, contact Sedrick Ntwali, Youth Engagement Specialist at (512) 442-7501 or sntwali@texansstandingtall.org.

Alcohol Delivery

Drinking Alcohol Raises Cancer Risk

Alcohol is a “definitive” risk factor for cancer, according to a statement released this month by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). 

According to ASCO, minimizing excessive exposure of alcohol has important implications for cancer prevention. In its statement, ASCO noted that alcohol consumption is causally associated with oropharyngeal (throat) and laryngeal (voicebox) cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer. However, alcohol may also be a risk factor for other cancers, including pancreatic and stomach cancers.

Researchers looked at several studies that found a strong correlation between alcohol and cancer.  They concluded that 3.5% of all cancer-related deaths were due to alcohol consumption.  They further concluded that in 2012, 5.5% of new cancer occurrences and 5.8% of all cancer deaths worldwide were attributable to alcohol consumption.

“The importance of alcohol drinking as a contributing factor to the overall cancer burden is often underappreciated,” the organization said in its statement. “Associations between alcohol drinking and cancer risk have been observed consistently regardless of the specific type of alcoholic beverages.”

Another recent study shows that teens aged 14-17 are less likely to drink if they know about the link between alcohol and cancer. Unfortunately, most aren’t actually aware of the connection. To help create healthier, safter communities, Texans Standing Tall believes its especially important to share this new research so young people gain a better understanding of the consequences of alcohol consumption.

Alcohol Delivery

Engage for Community Change: New Website

In 2016, Texans Standing Tall received a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to conduct a statewide assessment to help identify potential areas of collaboration between the traffic safety community and substance use prevention coalitions, and to develop an interactive tool to help connect coalitions and traffic safety experts.

This month, after conducting interviews with more than 50 prevention coalition leaders and traffic safety experts, analyzing findings, and collaborating to build an interactive web site, Texans Standing Tall launched Engage for Community Change.

On the website, people looking to connect with coalitions can search for one another by location, community type, or areas of focus. The goal is to help coalitions and communities leverage scarce resources for addressing problems in their communities that stem from underage alcohol and other substance abuse.

Coalitions have been integral to the passage of city social host ordinances that hold people accountable for underage drinking parties that occur in their homes or on their property. Texas leads the nation in the number of drunk driving crashes. Coalitions can have a potentially huge impact on reducing impaired driving, and we know that this tool can serve to assist businesses, agencies, nonprofits, and concerned citizens in making our communities safer.

Through the Engage for Community Change project, Texans Standing Tall hopes to help increase collaboration between coalitions and traffic safety experts in the state of Texas. If you have any questions or want your organization to be included in the project, please contact Kaleigh Becker, Research & Program Specialist, via email at kbecker@texansstandingtall.org or at 512-442-7501.

Alcohol Delivery

New Routines, New Opportunities for Underage Alcohol Use

The start of the school year is an exciting time! Students have the opportunity to try new activities, make new friends, and experience new social situations. However, these positive changes can also create conditions like social and academic pressures that leave young people especially vulnerable to dangerous alcohol use and abuse. Parents taking steps to prevent underage alcohol use and abuse is essential to promoting the safety of their children.

The majority of underage drinking takes place in social settings, such as at home and at parties. Even if parents are at home, underage drinking that occurs at parties can have many negative consequences, including violence and assaults, unplanned sexual activity, combination drug use, property damage and vandalism, and binge drinking and alcohol poisoning. Preventing underage social access to alcohol can help reduce these negative consequences.

Parents play a critical role in preventing underage drinking. If parents do not provide a space for underage drinking to occur, young people are significantly less likely to drink. Parents can help change attitudes and expectations that underage drinking is just a fact of life in their community by providing social activities that are alcohol-free and speaking with other parents about the consequences of underage drinking at parties, with or without supervision. Fostering an environment where underage drinking is not viewed as an inevitable rite of passage can help prevent many of the destructive consequences of underage social access to alcohol.

The beginning of the school year is fun and exciting. However, the changes in environment, friends, and school stressors can lead to unhealthy behavior. Parents should have a plan of action to help their kids stay out of trouble when it comes to underage drinking and alcohol abuse. When parents are undeniably clear with their children that are expected to obey the law and not drink underage, their children more often listen to them over their peers. Reducing youth access to alcohol at house parties and in other social situations can keep them safe and healthy – not just as kids, but well into adulthood.

Alcohol Delivery

Kayla Gardner is February’s YLC Member of the Month

Once again, we’re excited to tell you about another amazing youth in our Youth Leadership Council. We are happy to announce Kayla Gardner is February’s Youth Leadership Council (YLC) member of the month! She was chosen by Youth Engagement Specialist, Georgia Marks, for raising the most money to pay for costs associated with YLC travel to Texans Standing Tall’s Advocacy Day on Feb. 28.

Kayla started raising money for Advocacy Day because she believes that it’s important for the YLC to be involved in Texans Standing Tall’s major events.

“It isn’t often we have these opportunities. I feel that if you are given an opportunity to do something that you can have fun doing and learn from, then you need to do anything you can to be a part of it,” Kayla said.

One of the most effective tactics Kayla used in her fundraising efforts was messaging every person on her Facebook Friends List to tell them about Advocacy Day.

“When I am assigned to a project with the YLC, whether it’s by myself or with a group, I always want to be the best I can be to represent the cause we are promoting,” Kayla said.

Since November’s YLC Fall Training, Kayla has also stepped up in posting on the YLC’s Facebook page, as well as on TST’s often overlooked Instagram. Under her leadership, the number of YLC page likes has grown from a little over 100 to 283. Her hard work and dedication to the YLC comes from recognizing that she is a part of group and wants to do her best to represent all of those involved with the organization.

“The YLC is my constant reminder throughout the day of why I choose to be the person I am. Living in this generation and having YLC as a part of my life shows me why I choose to advocate against things, like underage drinking, that other people my age are heavily involved in,” Kayla said.

For more information about the YLC visit TexansStandingTall.org or email Georgia Marks.

Alcohol Delivery

House Select Committee Releases Interim Report on Mental Health

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), people with mental health disorders are more likely to experience an alcohol or substance abuse disorder. SAMHSA’s 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that 7.9 million adults in the United States have co-occurring disorders, which are defined as the coexistence of both a mental health and substance use disorder. This number highlights how important it is for prevention specialists, parents or guardians, and our state representatives to address the relationship between mental health and alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use.

SAMHSA’s finding on the prevalence of co-occurring disorders is one of several reasons Texans Standing Tall waited with bated breath for the House Select Committee on Mental Health to present its Interim Report. In November of 2015, Texas Speaker of the House, Joe Strauss, appointed the Committee in to study all aspects of mental health in Texas, including co-occurring substance use issues, during the 84th Interim Session. Throughout 2016, the Committee met to identify barriers and existing gaps in the mental health treatment of children and adults.

The Committee’s report makes recommendations on virtually every aspect of mental health and specifically addresses early intervention and prevention in youth. The report found:

  • Half of mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75% of mental health conditions will develop by age 24.
  • Approximately 50% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a need for mental health treatment.
  • Approximately 80% of state committed youth have an addiction to alcohol or drugs.

The report also provides information on suicide rates in Texas, pointing out that 90 percent of people who die by suicide experience mental illness and one in three people who commit suicide are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In fact, suicide continually ranks as the second or third leading cause of death of persons between the ages of 15 and 34 years old, and research shows that the availability of alcohol at home may contribute to suicide risk in adolescents. Knowing that suicide is one of the most devastating consequences associated with alcohol use and that suicide rates in Texas are increasing, it is very more important to invest in prevention and treatment measures that will help keep all of our youth safe and healthy.

With the start of the 85th Legislature on January 10, the eyes of Texas are on the state budget. A balanced budget is the only piece of legislation the state is required to pass each session. Given the 2.7% budget decrease already announced by the State Comptroller, our representatives will likely spend a lot of time looking for ways to trim the budget over the next several months. However, a major recommendation from the House Select Committee on Mental Health’s report is for the state to provide funding for services for individuals with mental health disorders. With that in mind, legislators may want to consider ways to increase state revenue rather than cutting mental health and other prevention services.

TST’s The Effects of Alcohol Excise Tax Increase on Public Health and Safety in Texas shows that just a dime per alcoholic drink can generate an additional $708 million annually for Texas. These additional funds could be used to pay for the types of services the Interim Report recommends. Additionally, a dime a drink increase has the power to save lives. TST’s report also shows that a dime a drink increase would result in 402 fewer deaths per year in our state, including 57 fewer alcohol-related suicides.

Thanks to a grant awarded to Texans Standing Tall in 2016, we were able to hire a Peer Policy Fellow to further explore how TST’s prevention work intersects with a number of critical mental health issues. Since August, our Fellow, Dr. Sachin Kamble, has been studying co-occurring disorders and examining the ways a dime a drink alcohol excise tax increase could be used to support prevention and mental health program needs. He has also been busy building relationships in the prevention, treatment, and mental health communities so that we can all work together to create safe and healthy communities for every Texan.

For more information about the positive health and safety benefits of raising alcohol excise taxes, visit TexansStandingTall.org to read the full report.