The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

June 7, 2014

Teen drinking: Depth of a problem

ENID, Okla. — A black button is pinned to a cork board behind the desk of Meri Spurlock. In white block letters it reads, “Enough!”

A prevention specialist at PreventionWorkz, Spurlock said the depth of the problem of teen drinking in Garfield County is not something the community realizes.

“I have. I have had enough,” Spurlock said of teen drinking. “I don’t know what to do about it. It’s very discouraging.”

Scope of the problem

Every two years, surveys are conducted with teens from across the state concerning the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

The most recent data taken from the 2012 survey shows more teens are binge drinking.

“A lot of kids nowadays, their binge drinking is 10 to 15 drinks in a two-hour period,” Spurlock said. “It’s not the old- fashioned kind of binge drinking we’re used to hearing about.”

The statistics show 52 percent of those surveyed reported drinking 10 or more drinks in a row.

“Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks over a two-hour period for women, or five or more drinks in a two-hour period for men,” Spurlock said. “Almost half of kids drink five to nine drinks, a quarter have 10 to 15 and another quarter have 15-plus drinks.

“Our bingeing nowadays is not the same as bingeing 30 to 40 years ago.”

Another concern is risky behavior associated with drinking, Spurlock said.

“Riding with a drinking driver is a big concern,” she said. “Over a quarter of 12th-graders have ridden with a drinking driver in the past 30 days. That’s a lot of kids.”

Community problem

Spurlock said there is apathy in the communities throughout the area.

“There is a lot of thinking that, “Man, kids are going to be kids,’” she said. “There is a lot of apathy. There is a lot of people who think there is a rite of passage for underage drinking.”

A community survey conducted this year showed there are programs to prevent teen drinking but there are those who are unaware of the problem or believe it is not occurring in the area.

“Apathy toward the issue in the community is a primary obstacle,” one respondent to the survey wrote.

“I’m not sure they pay attention,” answered another respondent. “Drinking appears to be part of the culture in Enid, Oklahoma, regardless of age, race or social class. Not sure people care about the efforts.”

Another respondent commented, “Some of our leaders recognize and understand the importance of this issue, while others feel that underage drinking is something that has always and will always occur.”

Respondents wrote many members of the community felt underage drinking was acceptable in certain situations.

“Overall, it’s considered a rite of passage. Too many parents supply alcohol to teens for parties. It’s not uncommon to be approached by a teen asking you to buy them some beer outside a convenience store, or to see someone do so.”

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