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Friday, August 5, 2011

Underage Drinking and Marijuana Use

Underage drinking is a major concern from California all the way to Maine, a bi-coastal problem with implications more severe than most may even understand. It is a common misconception that marijuana is the "gateway drug"; the fact is that most addicts and alcoholics start the journey towards addiction with a drink from their parents’ liquor cabinet at a relatively young age. Children and parents alike share the belief that alcohol is not that big of deal, if it were, alcohol would not be legal let alone sold on almost every street corner in the United States.

Surprisingly, the state that leads the nation in underage drinking is one of the smallest, according to new statistics. A new federal report, made public recently, showed that Vermont has the highest rate of underage drinking in the nation and is second in youth marijuana use, the Burlington Free Press reported. Vermont had the highest estimated rate of adult marijuana use in the 18 to 25 age bracket (30.6 percent); what’s more, Vermont had the highest rate of adults who started using marijuana (11.9 percent), while Utah had the lowest rate (3.5 percent).

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration conducted a state-by-state analysis of behavioral health issues. Their findings revealed that 36.6 percent of 12- to 20-year-olds in Vermont said they drank alcohol in the previous month; Utah had the lowest underage drinking rate, 14.2 percent.

Vermont's location may be a contributing factor in all of this considering that it is sandwiched between Montreal and Boston, according to Barbara Cimaglio, Deputy Commissioner for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs for the Vermont Department of Health. That part of the country is an area that sees a lot of drug trafficking and very little entertainment, there are no major sports teams or large concert halls. The citizens of Vermont also experience long cold winters that does not afford people the opportunity to go outside and be active; idleness can lead to depression that gets treated with substance abuse.

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