November 19, 2018
The statement of need is alarming. Over 18 percent of Doña Ana County high school seniors report their first drink of alcohol was before age 13.
By 12th grade, 72 percent of Doña Ana High School students self-report they have consumed alcohol, a troubling trend in a county where, since 1997, adults have reported the highest or second-highest rates in the nation for alcohol-related deaths from chronic liver disease, injury death, and motor vehicle traffic death.
“This is exceptionally concerning, especially given the fact that those who live closer to outlets are at a higher risk of drinking,” says Marisol Diaz, lead program manager for the UP! Coalition in Doña Ana County.
The leadership and members of the UP! Coalition offer a wealth of knowledge and experience on how to effectively implement data driven strategies to reduce underage and binge drinking. Membership councils are in the early stages of assessing how alcohol outlets and alcohol availability influence or impact underage and binge drinking in the County. This is possible through a grant awarded to the Southwest Center for Health Innovation from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation’s alcohol policy initiative.
UP! Coalition members are working closely with the SHIFT+ YMCA staff and will hold a summit on January 17 to unveil findings from the Las Cruces alcohol outlet density assessment project.
The January Alcohol Summit in Las Cruces will demonstrate geo-coded maps of both alcohol outlets and calls for service for issues related to alcohol consumption such as DWIs, thefts and domestic violence. “The goal of the summit is to raise awareness of the contributing factors, local conditions and community consequences associated with alcohol outlet density in Las Cruces and move data to action through community education and self-advocacy,” says Diaz.
A hot-spot analysis also will outline areas within the city limits of Las Cruces, where associated calls for service correlate to proximity of outlets. Qualitative information that was gathered from interviews of residents who live in hotspots or in close proximity will be discussed to shed light on the lived experience of residents.
The UP! Coalition has a long history of strategically consolidating efforts related to alcohol and other substances to identify needs, plan for appropriate interventions and collectively implement evidence-based strategies. The purpose of this project is in line with the historical efforts the many partners and members of the Coalition have driven forth since 2000.
This will provide the UP! Coalition with further action steps, including hosting data literacy workshops and developing community-driven action plans based on evidence gathered through the mapping exercises.
The UP! Coalition with support from the Shift+ initiative of the Health Foundation is poised to make lasting changes for youth and families in southern New Mexico to improve conditions to make healthier choices.
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