This article is part of a project of the local Community Health Improvement Council (CHIC). Health Councils were created statewide in conjunction with the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) with the goal of getting local citizens and county governments more involved in the manner in which health might be improved in each of their communities. The local CHIC is conducting an ongoing awareness campaign addressing the various areas that can potentially affect a person’s health.
Underage drinking in San Juan County has seen a significant decrease over the past several years. However, it is still an issue and San Juan County Partnership continues to work to address it.
One of the best ways to reduce underage drinking is to involve youth in the planning and implementation of strategies. To that end, San Juan County Partnership and the Mayor’s Teen Advisory Council through the Farmington Public Library, have established a collaboration to work with young people throughout the county. The Partnership’s underage drinking prevention group is called the San Juan County Youth Coalition.
With the goal of reducing underage drinking and young adult problem drinking, the Coalition has spent the first year developing its structure and membership. The most important people to be involved in the effort are the youth themselves. We also have the participation of schools, law enforcement, community leaders and people who have been or are a part of the Drug Free Communities effort in Shiprock, the Dine’ Ba’ Hozho Coalition.
The Coalition looked at the data on underage drinking and considered evidence based strategies that could be implemented. We have chosen three main strategies: sticker shock activities; perception of risk presentations; and, positive community norms campaigns.
Sticker shock activities involve youth and adults in placing stickers on cases of alcohol in retail outlets that remind those buying the alcohol that it is a 4th degree felony to provide alcohol to minors. This strategy has been proven to reduce alcohol consumption by minors through national research.
Perception of risk presentations educate young people about the risks involved in consuming alcohol. It is also a nationally proven strategy that if the perception of risk is raised, consumption will decrease. Students are working to bring these presentations to schools in the county.
Positive community norms campaigns present actual data that is positive to students, teachers, parents and the community. These messages can change the perception that we have that young people make unhealthy decisions and engage in risky behavior much more than they actually do. The messages can hold youth in making good decisions about drinking, drinking and driving, etc., and can actually change risky behaviors over time. San Juan County Partnership has implemented this strategy extensively in the Shiprock area and has seen positive results. It is also an evidence based strategy.
The Youth Coalition meets on the first Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Farmington Library, in conjunction with the Mayor’s Teen Advisory Council. The December meeting will be held on Dec. 7. It is open to youth from across the county, as well as adults who want to be involved in addressing underage drinking. The Coalition is funded by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, through STOP Act Legislation.
For more information, please contact Pamela Drake, San Juan County Partnership, 505-566-5867, .
SJC Youth Coaltion
Mayor's Teen Advisory Council
Written by Pamela Drake
Executive Director, San Juan County Partnership
2017 November 07
KSJE 90.9 FM
The Scott Michlin Morning Program
Interview with Pamela Drake