The Dallas Examiner
Underage drinking is the most common form of drug abuse among teenagers in the United States. Over 4,300 teens die each year as a result of excessive alcohol use, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Teens who drink alcohol and/or use illegal drugs are at high risk of death from a driving collision, drug overdose or alcohol poisoning. Additionally, most teens are likely to experience poor academic performance, more aggression, physical or sexual assaults, unplanned pregnancies or STDs, problems with memory, changes in brain development, etc.
And though most, if not all, youth under the age of 21 seem to know that underage drinking and taking illicit drugs are illegal, 35 percent of American youth report having consumed alcohol on at least one occasion – 12 percent of which report binge drinking, 36.4 percent admit to using marijuana and 25.5 percent admit to using illicit drugs. Of those youth, 10 percent admit to driving after consuming alcohol, 3.8 admit to driving under the influence of an illegal drug, and 22 percent said they rode with a teen that had been drinking, according to a CDC report.
Prom night – with all of its pomp and circumstance – increases the prevalence of alcohol and drug use, increasing the risk of death and other issues associated with its uses for minors.
For 15 years, The Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse has facilitated the BuzzFree PROmises Dress & Tux Giveaway, a collaborative youth event in hopes of alleviating the issue of drinking, drugs and risky behaviors in teens on prom night. The event also offers free evening attire for the special occasion to teens in attendance.
This year, many students from different high schools across the DFW Metroplex gathered at the Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy on March 5 for the 15th annual giveaway.
In order to participate in the program the student must be enrolled as a junior or senior in a participating district, have a good record of attendance, have a minimum of a “C” average GPA, write an essay between 300 and 500 words on why they chose to be drug free, and sign a pledge to be drug and alcohol free.
“I choose not to use drugs because I don’t need them to be successful and because of the effects that I’ve seen that they have on people. Drugs cause the rotting and loss of teeth and the destruction of the inside of your body. Drugs also cause heavy respiratory problems, making it extremely difficult to breathe. In short, drugs are fatal. People who use drugs act differently. Their personality is changed,” said Tre’ Bohannon, senior at The School for the Talented and Gifted.
He first heard about the event through his high school counselor.
“I saw it as a great opportunity to pledge not to use drugs or alcohol and it also comes with a free tux, so I was like why not?” he revealed.
Post-graduation, Bohannon plans on furthering his education and majoring in business administration.
The event kicked off with a fashion show, as students modeled the different evening dresses and tuxedos that were available. Afterward, the girls and the boys were separated to attend different workshops. The workshops were dedicated to educating the teens on substance abuse, healthy decision-making and the choices they will face when they go to college.
“These kids come and they listen to speakers and they listen to other adults telling them about drug and alcohol abuse. I know with my kids, I tell them things that all of the other parents tell their kids, to stay away from drugs and alcohol. They are living their values at home, but those kids might not necessarily be listening,” said June Deibel, COADA community outreach specialist. “So my theory is, if other people can reinforce what I’m teaching at home, that’s the best thing. I can teach them at home, but then if they go somewhere else and they hear another adult saying it then it reinforces it.”
The event also included a workshop for the parents on how to talk with their teens about drug prevention, as well as how to spot signs of drug use in teens.
Between the workshops, the students had an opportunity to pick out their dresses and tuxedos.
Chanel Bradford, a student from Uplift Luna Preparatory, enjoyed the workshops’ icebreakers and different activities. She especially liked the pledge to not do drugs and alcohol at the end.
“I know the consequences of using drugs and drinking alcohol and I just feel like I don’t want to make those bad decisions. I have people in my family that have made bad decisions because of the use of alcohol and using drugs,” Bradford said.
After graduation, she plans on majoring in geology at Louisiana Tech University.
Throughout the year, the COADA hosts meetings and different events to educate the youth as well as the community on drug and alcohol use and prevention. More information about the council and upcoming events is available at http://www.dallascouncil.org.