A Brewing Crisis
It’s not just happening in Butte or Montana. It’s a nationwide crisis. Underage drinking is higher than it has ever been. Drinking and driving is not just a teen problem – it affects every age group.
Underage drinking is a community problem and must be a community-wide solution. Retailers and tavern owners must commit not to sell to anyone under 21, members of the law enforcement profession must enforce existing laws and penalties, and the adults of the community must set a good example both at home and in public.
Underage Drinking in Montana
In 2008 Montana ranked 5th highest among the 50 states for the per capita cost of youth drinking. Underage drinking cost the citizens of Montana $274 million in 2005. These costs resulting from youth alcohol use includes medical care, work loss, pain and suffering.
Source: Underage Drinking in Montana (pdf)
A National Tragedy
45% of people who die in car crashes involving a drinking driver under age 21 are people other than the driver. Alcohol is the substance of choice for youth. Alcohol dependence rates are highest among young people between the ages of 18 and 20 – before they are old enough to drink legally. When teens drink, they drink more than adults. On average, young people have 5 drinks on a single occasion. Binge drinking can lead to serious problems and death.
Leo McCarthy lit the torch, and others came forward to create a grassroots organization with a threefold purpose:
- To educate teens about the dangers of drinking and to challenge them to be MIP free.
- To help educate parents about the dangers and signs of teen alcohol abuse.
- To foster a culture change in Butte, MT, that has a long history of tolerance for alcohol abuse stemming from its early days as a copper mining camp.
- If you are under 21, do not drink and never get in a car with somebody who has been drinking.
- If you are over 21, do not drink and drive, and be a good role model for our children.
- If you sell alcohol, check IDs, train your employees to obey the law, and keep alcohol out of the hands of our children.
- If you are a part of our justice system, enforce our laws and keep our children safe.