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South Dakota is addressing the issue of alcohol abuse among young people (between the age of 12 and 20), and those young adults between 18 to 25 years who have problems with binge drinking. Local coalitions will receive funds from $1.5 million dollars. This amount will be awarded each year for five years.

It is suggested that local coalitions have a wide variety of members, including parents, school officials, law enforcement personnel, and leaders or members of churches, synogogues or other places of worship. Further, health and social service agency personnel, local government representatives, and those who hold positions of authority in Native American tribes should also be included.

One may wonder what the difference is between alcohol abuse and binge drinking. Both are actually abuse; however, binge drinking occurs when a person goes for weeks or months without taking one drink of alcohol. Once the opportunity arises, though, for that person to drink, he will start drinking and will not stop until he is either so drunk or sick that he cannot drink any more, or has passed out. Once he has recovered from that particular episode, another extended amount of time may pass before it occurs again.

Binge-drinking in and of itself was not included in a survery of 6,757 North Dakota residents pertaining to their drug and alcohol use. Alcohol use was divided up into two categories-"alcohol only," meaning that the person only drank alcohol, and "alcohol with secondary drug."

In those two categories, however, 3,205 admitted to alcohol only use; 1,958 admitted to alcohol use as well as other drug use. The other drugs could have included cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and methaphetamine (meth.)

Perhaps the coalitions that will receive the money alloted to address the issue mentioned in the first paragraph will see the numbers of young people between the ages mentioned who seek substance abuse admission for alcohol (only and with secondary drug use) problems rise. The survey revealed that 7.9% of 12-17 year-olds had sought treatment for alcohol only abuse, while 16.4% sought treatment for alcohol and other drug use. The numbers for 18-20 year-olds were 17.0% and 15.7% respectively.

The coalitions might want to also address the issue of alcohol use among those less than 12 years old. The survey revealed that 0.1% and 0.2% of those who sought substance abuse admission for alcohol only and alcohol with other drug were under that age.

Alcohol abuse can lead to alcohol addiction, and this can be true even if a person indulges in binge-drinking only. It is very easy for binge-drinking to turn into more frequent drinking, and it is well-known that constant drinking is very likely to lead to addiction.

Perhaps those coalitions will use some of the money to fund and staff treatment centers specifically designed to treat alcohol addiction in young people, or make improvements to existing facilities. If this were to occur, the centers could accept only those between the ages of 12 and 17, or 18 to 21. It may be possible to house both age groups in one facility, and measures could be taken to keep the treatment programs, living arrangements (if the center accepts patients on an in-patient basis), and other aspects of the alcohol addiction treatment age-appropriate.

Group counseling sessions could be a mixture of both age groups, if the facility is set up in this fashion. Individual sessions could be held with the same counselors, if budget restraints did not allow separate counselors for each age group.

As mentioned earlier, ideal coalitions would include members from all aspects of the community. For this reason, some facilities could (many of the existing ones may already be) be faith-based; that is, supported by a specific religion or denomination, or basing treatment protocol on a specific religious teaching. This would allow those young people who wish to receive faith-based alcohol addiction treatment to do so.

South Dakota Drug Rebab Centers and South Dakota Addiction Treatment Programs

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