Town Hall Meeting – Held April 3 for Alcohol Awareness Month

I’m still catching up our readers on past events! We’ve done so much this year.

OCSAPC had speakers who offered messages of prevention and hope during Town Hall Meeting about underage alcohol consumption in Wheeling Thursday night.

About 75 people — nearly half of them teenagers — gathered at 6 p.m. at Christ United Methodist Church in Wheeling to listen to presentations by local drug and alcohol counselors and prevention specialists.

According to the coalition, youth alcohol use in Ohio County is third highest in the state, and a majority of Ohio County teens reported they see little or no harm in drinking alcohol.“It’s a big problem in this area,” said Ken Boyle, a drug and alcohol counselor for adolescents at Youth Services System in Wheeling.

On the other hand, 66 percent of Wheeling Park High School students reported they think it’s wrong for adults to host teen drinking parties, according to Kristen Kroflich (pictured above), coalition project director, citing a survey conducted by the law firm Gold, Khourey and Turak.“That’s a good number. We want people to know what these youth are saying. Youth can make a difference,” Kroflich said.

The Wheeling meeting kicked off with a digital video presentation created by members of We Are the Future, a nonprofit youth group dedicated to social change.

Ken Boyle spoke about his battle with alcohol addiction. “I saw firsthand the terrors of addiction”, he said, noting he started using alcohol in high school. It seemed everyone was doing it, he said.“Young people, you don’t have to think that way. Adults, please don’t accept that when your kid is 15, 16 or 18, ‘Oh, they’re going to drink and there’s nothing we can do about it.’ … The worst thing in the world is for a parent to have to bury a child. It can be prevented,” Boyle said.

Carole Scheerbaum of the West Virginia Prevention Resource Center gave statistics including the finding that Ohio County ranked sixth out of the 55 West Virginia counties in the need for a substance abuse prevention program. The factors include youth reporting there is some or no harm in using alcohol and that they have easy access to beer and liquor. “But I have hope. Why? Because the youth are getting involved. We saw tobacco use decline when the youth got involved, and the same thing will happen with alcohol,” Scheerbaum said.

Other speakers included Russ Taylor from HealthWays Inc./Miracles Happen, an inpatient treatment program for adult men, and Jim Braden, prevention officer at Wheeling Park High School.

Wheeling News Register Staff Writer Art Limann contributed to this report.

Leave a comment