As was reported here last month, Trustee Karen Yelsey is concerned about the “rampant” teen drug use in Newport Beach and the information from a NBPD narcotics officer that the drug of choice is heroin.

The district is responding to her call to action by developing a program to address this very serious issue. I do not have any details of the program and know only that it is tentatively scheduled to be introduced later this year.

While I do not doubt the assertions of the police officer that drug use is rampant and that heroin is the drug of choice, in the back of my mind, I am still concerned about two other drugs.

The first is alcohol. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention underage drinking is “a major public health problem.” Consider:

  • Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States, more than tobacco and illicit drugs
  • Alcohol is responsible for more than 4,300 annual deaths among underage youth
    Underage drinkers consume 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks
  • On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers
  • In 2010, there were approximately 189,000 emergency rooms visits by underage persons for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol

The challenge with alcohol is twofold. First, it is widely available and often found accessible to minors in their own homes. Second, our society glorifies its use.

The other concern is prescription drug use.

Regardless, the news that some steps are being taken is welcome. Yelsey deserves credit for bringing this to the attention of her colleagues and the community.

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