While the focus in Colorado has been on the impact of legalization on underage marijuana use across the state, in our community, and in most communities in Colorado, alcohol continues to be the substance that is most commonly used by adolescents. This is true also for adults across our state. The widespread use of alcohol by adults (62.4 percent of Colorado adults reported that they drank alcohol in the last month in 2017), the easy availability of alcohol in homes and the social acceptance of alcohol use by adults are factors that increase the likelihood that youth will turn to alcohol before other drugs.

Telluride youth reported in the 2017 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey (HKCO) that community laws and norms were favorable toward substance use, and that their peers and parents had favorable attitudes toward substance use. These risk factors present in our community, combined with the festival atmosphere and many events that include alcohol, create an environment of acceptance around alcohol use in the community, which lead to higher numbers of youth who report using alcohol.

In that same survey, 46.8 percent of Telluride High School students reported drinking alcohol within the past 30 days, while 33.1 percent reported they had engaged in binge drinking — at least four drinks for females and at least five drinks for males — within a couple of hours, on one or more occasions within the past month.

On Wednesday, the Communities that Care Coalition and Tri-County Health Network (TCHNetwork) will be facilitating a community discussion around underage drinking. The discussion is 5:30-7 p.m. at the Telluride High School library at 725 West Colorado Ave.

The conversation will include an opportunity for participants to share their perspectives and thoughts about underage alcohol use, as well as information about what youth have reported through surveys administered by the school district. A panel of local experts from the school, the medical and mental health community, and law enforcement will discuss what impacts they see in the community around underage drinking. The evening will close with a short presentation about how parents can best discuss alcohol use with their children.

All parents, school staff and interested community members are welcome. Light refreshments and snacks will be served.

If you would like more information about the event, contact Sami Damsky at TCHNetwork at 970-708-7096, or by email at coord-bh@tchnetwork.org.

ABOUT COMMUNITIES THAT CARE COALITION

The San Miguel Communities that Care Coalition was formed in early 2017 through a grant awarded to Tri-County Health Network by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. The coalition is comprised of parents, community members and representatives from many youth serving organizations and leaders in education, government, law enforcement and social services. The coalition’s vision statement is to create “a community that empowers our youth to be healthy, productive, resilient and engaged.” For more information, contact Paul Reich at 970- 708-7096 or pmbh@tchnetwork.org.

ABOUT TRI-COUNTY HEALTH NETWORK

Formed in 2010, Tri-County Health Network is a 501c3 nonprofit with offices in Telluride and Naturita. TCHNetwork operates 20 community outreach programs that serve a vital role in filling the void of access to health care by assuring care is accessible, affordable and available to all populations in our four-county region (San Miguel, Montrose, Ouray and Delta counties). We are committed to increasing access to care, building health equity and eliminating health disparities. For more information, visit tchnetwork.org