Addressing teen drinking, drug use in Hanover

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan - email

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - There are new efforts in a regional crackdown on underage drinking. Last month, an undercover investigation busted more than a dozen Chesterfield County stores for selling alcohol to minors.

Now Hanover County is addressing issues of underage drinking and drug use. A prevention summit starts tomorrow at the Hanover Human Services Center in Ashland.

The main goal is to raise awareness in this community about the reality and dangers of underage drinking.

"It's an issue that's pervasive across America and we are trying to here and across Richmond change the paradigm from a right of passage," said Martha Lambert, Coordinator of Prevention Services and Community Education for Hanover County.

"That a lot of my generation did to a health issue, we know so much more about adolescent brain development and the fact that their brains are really wired until age 25, and the profound affect that alcohol and drug can have on that brain," she said.

That's why for the next two days county leaders including school and law enforcement officials plus parents will gather to discuss ways to prevent and at least talk about substance abuse issues.

They surveyed youth in the county and will use that research to develop a plan.

"We've gathered data in a lot of different ways to get a snapshot of our community and that data is going to inform all of us around the table and give us an accurate picture of what is going on with our underage drinking issues," she said.

Underage drinking really is an issue, even in quiet counties like Hanover. Earlier this year, Hanover made headlines when 23 young people were arrested for underage drinking.

It happened during prom season at two separate weekend parties -- evidence that this is a subject families must tackle from the time children are tweens at 8, 9 and 10 years old throughout high school.

"We need to make underage drinking and drug use as normalized in our families as how much dessert are we going to have this week or how much sugar are we going to have at Halloween," Lambert said.

This summit is part of a larger effort outlined by the Hanover County Board of Supervisors to build community support in a variety of issues.

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