DHHS Report: Binge Drinking Up in 19-20 Year Old Nebraskans - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

DHHS Report: Binge Drinking Up in 19-20 Year Old Nebraskans

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Rates of underage and binge drinking and impaired driving continue to be higher in Nebraska than the national average, according to a report released by the Department of Health and Human Services Wednesday.

Between 2010 and 2013 about 3,000 19 to 25 year olds across the state were surveyed each year. More 19- and 20-year-old Nebraskans told DHHS that they're binge drinking.

Last year 32.1 percent of females and 34.7 percent of males surveyed admitted to binge drinking in the last 30 days.

Of those surveyed in 2013, 19 to 22 year olds in college reported higher rates of binge drinking than those not in school.

"Binge drinking going up is always concerning. It's not a good thing at all," said Michelle Schultz, Grand Island Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition coordinator.

But, there is good news for alcohol awareness advocates like Schultz.

Impaired driving dropped from about 30 percent in 2010 to about 22 percent of those surveyed in 2013.

Perception, at least, also seems to be changing.

More than 70 percent of young adults recognized a moderate or great risk to binge drinking; and 78.8 percent believe 18 to 20 year olds shouldn't get drunk.

But, just 21.9 percent viewed binge drinking as wrong for those over the legal drinking age.

Schultz says, even then, there are dangers.

"The human is not fully developed until about 25 or so, so if you're adding in alcohol or any kind of chemicals it's causing damage to your brain," said Schultz.

With less funding for education in school, Schultz said it's more important than ever for parents to talk to their kids.

"A lot of studies show that if parents are up front with their kids and just draw the line and say it's not acceptable at all, that's what you need to do and then these kids are less likely to drink," she said.

Schultz said that family aspect is a very important part of prevention.

She said a recent grant will help Hall County groups launch programs to strengthen families and a media awareness campaign later this year.

The Central Nebraska Council on Alcoholism and Addictions is also hosting a national speaker next month to help others in their field help treat youth. 

To see the full report, click here.

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