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Teen binge drinking can be deadly

Recent headlines tell the tragic consequences of underage drinking.

Lacey Police Department were recently called to the 1400 block of Diamond Road where they discovered the body of a 19-year-old man. Thurston County Coroner Gary Warnock is awaiting final toxicology reports to confirm that the man died of alcohol poisoning. Police said a number of minors were drinking the night the young man died.

A 17-year-old Tumwater youth met the same fate this summer. Toxicology reports are pending in that case, to.

Instead of celebrating their son’s 16th birthday, an Onalaska family spent the day planning his funeral. Police said the victim spent the night drinking alcohol at a house party.

“We don’t want to see this happen to anyone else,” said his grief stricken uncle.

The deaths of these three local teens must serve as a wake-up call for all parents. Alcohol can be a deadly drug when consumed in excess.

Michael Langer, drug prevention and treatment supervisor of the state Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery and Sharon Foster of the Washington State Liquor Control Board, are co-chairs the Washington State Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking. They say before we lose another child, grandchild, student and friend, adults should ask themselves what they are doing to encourage or discourage underage drinking.

Statistics show that alcohol kills more kids than tobacco and illegal drugs combined. The co-chairs say about 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die each year from underage-drinking related injuries.

We know the extent of the binge drinking problem in Washington state. According to the latest Healthy Kids survey, one in five 10th graders, and one in 11 eighth graders, will binge drink (five or more drinks in a row) in the next two weeks.

Those teens are flirting with death.

Langer and Foster say parents are key — the number one influence on their children’s decisions about alcohol.

Furnishing alcohol to a minor is a gross misdemeanor. However, if a prosecutor can prove that someone acted with criminal recklessness or criminal negligence leading to a teen’s alcohol-related death, that person could face a manslaughter charge.

As Langer and Foster say, “Preventing more tragedy starts with us.”

source: The Olympian

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