Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Late Nite @ the Y

For those of you who have been following the efforts of the Coalition, you know that we have worked diligently over the years to educate parents and students about the dangers of underage drinking and drug use through various collaborative programs and initiatives. We have also interviewed local teens asking them to help us identify the issues in our community that increase the risk of adolescent substance use and to help us promote the factors that minimize that risk.

Consistently, the main issue raised by the kids is the need for more weekend youth-oriented activities where they can just "hang out with their friends and have fun". To address this need, the Coalition has joined together with the Chapel-Hill Carrboro YMCA to host the first in a series of safe and fun evenings out for all Chapel Hill High and East Chapel Hill High School students (only) on Friday, October 27th from 9 pm to Midnight.

Dubbed "Late Nite at the Y", this event will include a D.J., dancing, basketball, Wolleyball, "open-mic" performance lounge, concessions, games and much more. To ensure everyone's safety, Chapel Hill and Carrboro police officers will be on-site, breathalyzers and metal detectors will be administered to students upon entry and attendees must present a Chapel Hill or EAST school identification card. Cost is $5 per person at the door.

I want to express my personal gratitude to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA for providing their leadership, facility and youth expertise in hosting this long-awaited teen event. Together, we support our youth in making healthy choices about their lives and we are committed to providing them with safe and fun-filled opportunities where alcohol and drug use is not peer-pressured or expected.

I hope you will join with me in showing support for this and similar events for our teenagers. To volunteer for "Late Nite @ the Y" or make a donation to YMCA hosted substance-free activities for local teens, please contact me or Jeff Lloyd at the YMCA 942-5156.

All my best,

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Fall Meeting Notes 2006

Annual Accomplishments

Our Teens, Our Town - Media Literacy - Safe Homes Database - Town Hall Meeting featuring Mrs. Easley - Reality Check - Alcohol Purchase Survey RASP BARS Shoulder Tap - Governers DWI Bill (12/2006) - Warnings on Bags at Orange County ABC Stores - Aaron White "Alcohol and Teenage Brain Development"

New Initiatives

YMCA Hosting "LATE NIGHT" on October 27th from 9pm to Midnight
Please contact Jeff Lloyd at the YMCA 942-5156 about donating to help defray the cost of events like these.

Neil Pedersen talked about the changes for the district and presented the new handouts and brochures for awareness. The brochures are to be handed out to Middle School and High School parents. There will be a district Task Force meeting at the Lincoln Center on Thursday, October 12th, 2006 at 8am.

Culbreth School will host a Reality Check on November 15th, 2006 for all of the district to attend.

More info as it becomes available...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Community Coalition Meeting

The Coalition for Alcohol & Drug Free Teenagers of Chapel Hill & Carrboro invites you attend our next lunch meeting.

Thursday, September 28th at 12 noon
This meeting is an opportunity to inform the community about the Coalition's current initiatives, as well as to hear from the community as to concerns, celebrations or needs. An agenda will be sent out just prior to the meeting.

Location: Squid's Restaurant (1201 15-501 Hwy Bypass, Chapel Hill 942-8757)
A complimentary lunch will be provided by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation - Chapel Hill Center. Please kindly RSVP by September 25th, to if you plan to attend this meeting, so we can order the right amount of food.

This meeting is open to the public. Please feel free to forward this email to others you think might like to attend.

Dale Pratt-Wilson, Director
The Coalition for Alcohol & Drug Free Teenagers of Chapel Hill and Carrboro (CADFT)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Legislative Update

Dear Coalition Members, Partners and Supporters:
     2006 has been busy for our Coalition, and a year that has included significant accomplishment and important victories in our continuing effort to eliminate underage drinking and drug use by youth in our community. In particular, I wanted to report to you about significant legislative accomplishments in the General Assembly.
     Foremost, I want to thank our legislative delegation for their continuing support of our work, and in particular want to commend Representative Joe Hackney for his tireless efforts in Raleigh. As most of you know, Representative Hackney is the House Majority Leader, and, in addition, Chairman of the Governor’s DWI Task Force. As such, he became a legislative sponsor and key leader in obtaining General Assembly approval for the measures I note below, which are part of the Governor’s DWI legislative proposals. I urge you to contact Representative Hackney, Representative Verla Insko (co-sponsor of the bill) and other legislators to thank them for their dedicated work and support.
     The final version of the Governor’s DWI Task Force Recommendations was overwhelmingly ratified by both Houses (a unanimous vote in the House and a 47-1 vote in the Senate), is expected to be signed by Gov. Easley and become law on December 1, 2006. This important piece of legislation included many provisions related to DWI's and several of these provisions are of particular interest on the underage drinking front:
First – Under 21 Alcohol Consumption –While it has long been illegal for underage persons to possess, purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol, pertinent statutes were silent as to the "consumption" of alcohol by the underage drinker. Because of this lack of specificity, it led to an inconsistent application of the law in North Carolina when teens had been consuming alcoholic beverages, but were not visually seen in "possession" of the alcohol by an officer. In some communities, law enforcement would routinely cite the offending youth for "possession" with or without any visual observation, while officers in other communities would not cite the offending youth unless expressly accompanied by their visual observation of possession (even when the youth was obviously impaired by the alcohol). In effect, some agencies interpreted this to mean that it was illegal to "possess" alcohol, but not illegal for teens to "consume" alcohol. Without addressing this issue of how alcohol could be "consumed" without "possession," the State legislature has now resolved it. The General Assembly clarified this by making it illegal for any person under 21 to "consume" alcohol.
     This is important for prevention advocates in North Carolina, and will lead to a more consistent and common sense application of the law, which is meant, as a matter of public policy, to keep alcohol out of the bodies (and hands) of children.
Second – Keg-Permitting – You probably followed our efforts before the Town Council of Chapel Hill in urging their support for keg registration. Distilled spirits, along with wine purchases above a specific quantity, have long required registration information with the ABC. However, no such registration or information was required for the acquisition of beer kegs. Beer, because of its relatively low cost, is often the beverage of choice for underage drinkers. Beer kegs compound the problem because it enables youth to purchase beer in even larger quantities and at lower cost. Along with that is the reality that the supply of beer to the underage drinker from a keg is unlimited and unmonitored, typically enhancing the likelihood of greater consumption and abuse of alcohol.
     As background, keg-registration legislation is a "best-practice" strategy (IOM Report 2003) intended to aid law enforcement in tracking down the purchaser of a beer keg should it end up in the hands of underage drinkers. In states that have passed keg registration, every keg is imprinted with a serial number and is traceable back to the retailer who sold it. The adult who was "registered" for that keg and purchased it, could then potentially be charged as an adult provider.
     Our new legislative version provided for keg-permitting, rather than keg-registration. With keg-permitting, an adult purchaser must obtain a permit from the beer retailer, specify where the keg is being transported and must produce the permit upon request of law enforcement. We believe this legislation can impact underage drinking by requiring an extra layer of accountability for the adult-purchaser and help hold them responsible should underage youth drink from the keg. We did not get everything we wanted in this legislation but it is an important start in North Carolina, and we will continue to work to strengthen its provisions. The new provisions for keg permitting in North Carolina are as follows:
           1) Retailers will be responsible for issuing keg permits.
           2) Kegs to be covered by a permit include full kegs (15 gallons) and "pony" kegs (7.75 gallons). Purchase of a "party" keg (5 gallons) does not require a permit.
            3) Retailers will be required to keep permits on file for 90 days. By request of any person, a retailer must retain the permit for a requested period of time beyond the 90 day period.
           4) It is a Class 1 misdemeanor if a buyer does not obtain a permit for a full or pony keg.
     While we don’t claim that keg permitting, or changes in consumption laws, standing alone, will eliminate underage drinking, we do believe they serve as additional tools in the prevention toolbox.
     It’s significant to remember that a dominant, influential and long-term force in legislative bodies across the country, is the alcohol industry. This year, we joined together with other Coalitions in North Carolina to be the counter-voice to this entity, working closely with legislators helping to educate them on the measures contained in the new bill that could help us fight against underage drinking. The alcohol industry is no longer the only voice being heard by the General Assembly and we will continue to work with our leaders to look for ways to improve the laws in order to protect our children.
     Youth in America are bombarded daily with messages from the alcohol industry, glorifying, trivializing or "humorizing" its use. But it is not a product without consequence. If their messages are to be believed, it would be easy to draw the conclusion that life, romance, recreation and the good-times can all be fulfilled by drinking. Today, nearly 18% of all alcohol sales are to underage drinkers, representing nearly $23 billion dollars in profits annually to the alcohol industry. While the early initiation of youth to alcohol supports the financial interests of the alcohol industry by continuously bringing in new customers, our children are their victims as evidenced by:
  • 2006 Duke University researchers report that alcohol causes more damage to the developing brains of teenagers than was previously thought, injuring them significantly more than it does adult brains. (see New York Times article, The Grim Neurology of Teenage Drinking, July 4, 2006)
  • 2006 Columbia University study finding that 25% of underage drinkers meet standard criteria for alcohol abuse and dependence
    a range of adverse short-and long-term consequences, including academic and/or social problems; unwanted, unintended, and unprotected sexual activity; physical and sexual assault; memory problems; increased risk of suicide and homicide; physical problems such as hangovers or illnesses; alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries such as burns, falls, and drownings; and death from alcohol poisoning. (
  • As advocates for our children, we must work constantly to find ways to send our own powerful, consistent, "no use" messages to our young people. A friend of mine once said, "The alcohol industry is not the enemy. Preventing underage drinking is about social marketing and the industry is just our competition."
Thanks to all of you who continue your own good work to ensure the well-being and long-term quality of life for Chapel Hill and Carrboro teenagers.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Down on the 'Pharm'

Pharm parties are the latest rage among high school students. When you hear the term "pharm" party, you may get a visual of driving to the country to listen to music and chat with friends under a large oak tree. Unfortunately, the dream ends there.
Pharm parties are gatherings where pharmaceuticals are passed out. Teens raid their parents' medicine cabinet (called "pharming") and take their loot to a party, where they pass drugs around without regard to dosage, side effects or drug incompatibility.
Pharm parties are the happening thing because they don't carry the stigma associated with illegal drug use. Some teens don't even consider themselves "doing drugs" because the drugs are prescription medication. Unlike the traditional drugs that parents are taught to look for, these drugs are easy to obtain and conceal. Also, there is less risk of police involvement because no one is going to the "shady" side of town to buy cocaine, heroin or marijuana.
Parents can no longer focus their attention solely on identifying alcohol and marijuana usage and paraphernalia. They must be mindful of all medications in the household and get rid of those that are not being used. Keeping a few pain pills around in case the old back flares up again is not wise.
All narcotics should be locked in a place where only the intended user has access. As much as one may hate the idea of keeping a log or counting pills, doing so is the best way to monitor the medicine cabinet. If you are not careful and you find your pills stolen, your physician may deny you a refill.
Substance use among teens was a problem before pharming. In 2003 The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Drug Policy Information Clearinghouse published these facts:
  • 10.8 percent of youth (ages 12-17) had used an illicit drug at least once in the prior month, according to the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse.
  • Substance abuse and addiction was expected to add at least $41 billion to the costs of elementary and secondary education for the 2000-01 school year.
  • 65.3 percent of youth who were heavy drinkers also used illicit drugs. Among nondrinkers, 5.1 percent used illicit drugs.
  • 48 percent of youth who smoked cigarettes used illicit drugs within the prior month. Only 5.3 percent of nonsmoking youth used illicit drugs within the prior month.
  • An estimated 1.1 million youth needed treatment for an illicit-drug abuse problem in 2001. Of this group, only 100,000 received treatment.
  • More than one-third of the sexually active young people reported that alcohol or drugs had influenced their decisions about sex.
  • Twenty-nine percent of sexually active individuals 15-24 years old said they had done more sexually when drinking or using drugs.
  • Youth who reported alcohol or illicit drug use during the past year were more likely to be at risk for suicide than those refraining from substances.

Adding a new concept to an old problem creates more issues. Pharming, alone, can lead to drug incompatibility and overdosing. Overdosing can lead to death. What will the statistics reveal in 2010 when the statistics include the concept of pharming?
If you're a parent, talk openly with your teens about drug and alcohol use. Demand accountability. You should know where your teens are and whom they are with.
Parents should consult one another. Coalitions can help monitor the problem, provide education and healthy alternatives. The cost of drug and alcohol rehabilitation is high with no guaranteed results. Focusing on prevention will produce healthier teens and safer communities while saving millions of government and private dollars.
We cannot stick our heads in the sand and hope school officials will fix this problem. Our children are depending on us!
The facts be viewed online at:

This is Beverly Scarlett's first column for The Chapel Hill News. She is an assistant district attorney for Orange and Chatham counties and lifelong Orange County resident. Readers may contact her at

Monday, May 15, 2006

Underage Drinking Rally

When: Thursday, May 18, 2006 at 1:30 PM
(arrive at 1:00 PM to organize)

Where: Durham County Courthouse
201 E Main St
Durham, NC 27701-3640

Why: In an effort to capitalize on the anticipated national and local media coverage generated by the scheduled arraignment of Duke Lacrosse player, Reade Seligman, on May 18th, we are taking the opportunity to put ourselves in front of the media to bring focus to the dangers of underage drinking and the health and safety issue this presents for all communities. This Rally is not against Duke, its lacrosse players or Duke's alcohol policies. Please do not take this opportunity to express your personal views about the case.

The Plan: A Rally scheduled for 1:30 PM might work to our best advantage. (Seligman's arraignment is on the Court's afternoon docket, which convenes at 2:30pm. If we stage our rally at 1:30 pm, then we won't be competing for attention. This legal arena, we are finding out, is dynamic and continuances occur, as in the case of the 2nd accused, Collin Finnerty, whose arraignment is continued to mid-June. So if we get there and there is a continuance, we will consider it a "mobilization exercise".

Earl handed out a fact sheet and spoke to the media this morning, taking the opportunity presented by a 3rd student charged with rape. The media talked to him about underage drinking and supported the effort. He did not get TV time HOWEVER they also know about our Rally on Thursday and have a heads up!

What to Bring:

1. A BIG SIGN that says some variation of the following:
      • United Against Underage Drinking
      • Zero Tolerance for Underage Drinking
      • Stop Underage Drinking
      • Underage Drinking: A Problem in Every Community
2. Several warm bodies to hold signs
3. A "smart" looking outfit, in case you are on TV.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Teens get a shot of reality


CHAPEL HILL -- For a half hour, Chapel Hill High School seniors sat in the bleachers and watched their soccer field become a make-believe bloodbath.

It started with a glimpse. A slight breeze lifted the blue tarp off two mangled cars packed with bodies.

Then the tarp was yanked, setting into motion teenagers' squeals of pain, a drunk driver's arrest, chirping two-way radios and even a UNC Hospitals helicopter whipping up soil.

"I can't feel my legs!" screamed Erin Humphreys, wedged in the back of a Volkswagen Rabbit.

The high school prom was Saturday. The elaborate Friday morning production was an in-your-face attempt to make prom-goers think twice about driving drunk.

The mock crash, planned since December, was arranged by the groups Students Against Violence Everywhere and Students Against Destructive Decisions. They pulled together every local agency that might respond to a real wreck, including the Chapel Hill Fire Department, the Chapel Hill Police, Orange County Emergency Medical Services and UNC Air Care.

"If you look up and see me or one of my colleagues standing over you, you're not having a good day," nurse Chris McGrath with UNC Air Care told students beforehand.

"We are going to poke and prod you in ways you can't believe. You might have a tube sticking out of every hole in your body," McGrath said. "No matter how much pain medicine we give you, you're still going to hurt."

At first, a drunk driver played by student Katie Bennett emerged dazed and blood-splattered from a dinged Chevrolet. Bottles of Budweiser lay sideways under the front bumper.

Her victims were four other Chapel Hill High teenagers in a Volkswagen, which, in the staged scenario, had T-boned the Chevy.

Within minutes, a fire truck roared onto the field. Men hopped out, checked pulses and fired up the Jaws of Life.

One firefighter cracked off the passenger-side door and tossed it on the cement track circling the field. One peeled off the Rabbit's roof like a sardine can.

Before pulling out bodies, emergency workers covered the mangled car's sharp edges with cardboard sleeves. (They look like the jackets Starbucks uses to prevent burned fingers.)

The living were strapped to day-glow yellow backboards and laid out on the cement. "My leg!" Humphreys screamed, quivering in her straps.

One was hauled away in an ambulance. Then came the sound of a UNC Air Care helicopter, drowning out the radio bleeps and Humphreys' wailing as it landed on the field.

Bits of dirt blew everywhere, pecking at faces in the bleachers. Amanda Thomas-Cole, portraying a victim whose head had crashed through the Rabbit's windshield, was carried to the chopper. (For safety reasons, she did not board and take off.)

The firefighters and EMS workers then laid out the dead.

Two of them were put on their backs -- no stretchers -- and covered with white sheets.

Claire Superak, a junior, looked like a ghost in tennis shoes.

"I'm just doing this to protect my classmates," said Thomas-Cole after the stadium had cleared out. "Maybe 80 percent of them won't take it seriously. But if this changes one person's mind, it's worth it."

Contact staff writer Patrick Winn at 932-8742 or

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Campaign to end teen drinking

By VALARIE SCHWARTZ - The Chapel Hill News

As the temperatures rise and senioritis spreads to the lower grades, the rumors of parties blossom along with the dogwoods and azaleas.

It's that time of year when strolls along Bolin Creek or any secluded area might be decorated with the litter of teen parties. Tell tale signs include empty Redi-whip cans, bottles of mouthwash or cough syrup -- and of course empty adult beverage containers.

"Kids will be kids," adults have said forever, accepting the norm of teen drinking and drug abusing.

But in this community, Dale Pratt-Wilson has found a way to bend that norm -- and maybe even, within a few years, completely eclipse the rites of passage teens consider their entree into the world of alcohol.
2005 Youth Risk Behavior Survey
Chapel Hill-Carrboro findings
46.7 percent: High school students who drank alcohol.
25.3 percent: High school students engaged in binge drinking.
18 percent and 19.7 percent: High school and middle school students, respectively, who had their first drink at age 12 or younger.
26.8 percent and 24 percent: High school and middle school students, respectively, who rode in a car with someone who had been drinking.
19.3 percent and 6 percent: High school and middle school students, respectively, who smoked marijuana.
For the past two years, Pratt-Wilson has been the parent with the loudest battle cry and greatest tenacity against teenage drinking and drug abuse. For her, the campaign began when she showed up at a teen party just as police were arriving.

The alarming sight of 200 kids scattering from an apartment where four beer kegs had been supplemented with pot was punctuated by the ages of the party guests.

"These were the faces of young children," she said. "They were middle and high schoolers."

More alarming was what happened next -- nothing.

"The police at that time didn't do anything," she said. "The kids just left."

She had plenty of anger to go around, starting with the parents who had rented the apartment so their son could play football at East Chapel Hill High School. But she directed most of her heat at the Chapel Hill Police Department.

She sat down with Police Chief Gregg Jarvies and left that meeting with a new question: Did the community of Chapel Hill not really care about this?

She recognized that she was dealing with deeply rooted societal norms.

"It used to be that people drove and drank," Pratt-Wilson said. Then MADD came along and laws were tightened.

"The new norm is: Drink and don't drive," she said. But that's not good enough when speaking of our children. "They're still in danger -- of alcohol poisoning, suicide, homicide, rape, unprotected sex," and general out-of-control behavior, she said.

Armed with state and federal grants, she started the Coalition for Alcohol and Drug Free Teenagers of Chapel Hill and Carrboro (CADFT), and in 2005 she helped conduct a survey developed by the Centers for Disease Control among 2,783 high school and 774 middle school students. The results tallied their behavior during the 30 days prior to the survey (see box).

Using the survey findings, she started the Safe Homes Network, a project endorsed by the local school system and police departments. Parents who sign the Safe Homes Network pledge are listed in a directory, which other parents can view on-line to help them feel confident that their child can visit that home without fear that drinking or drug use will be allowed there.

So far, nearly 300 parents have signed the pledge she started circulating in mid-February.

Pratt-Wilson, however, has a goal of 6,300 -- that's roughly every home with a middle- or high school-aged child in the district.

"Five years ago a concerned group of parents tried the pledge and 12 people signed up," Pratt-Wilson said. "The community has changed a little bit.

Carole Groux, who moved here in August, is among those happy for the change. As a family counselor, Groux understands the impact of drug use on children and families.

"We have to clean up the environment," she said. "We need to reduce the number of parties and number of places where kids hang out and do those things. It's the way to keep all children safer."

The responsibility falls where it should -- to the parents.

"Parents need to have high expectations and great consequences," Groux said. "If there are 40 wild parties this year, maybe in a year or two there will only be 10," if parents make the pledge and keep to it.

"One of the greatest things we can do is keep our children off alcohol and drugs, because of the damage that it causes to their brains and the increased risk of dependence and addiction," Groux said.

She cited recent national research findings that indicate that children who begin substance abuse at 13 have a 40 percent risk of becoming dependent.

"If a child starts experimenting at 13, by the time they're 15 they're changing the wiring of their brain," she said. "If they can wait until 21 they reduce the risk (of dependence) to 10 percent."

Kerry Brandewie, a Lake Hogan Farms neighbor of Groux's, has a child in the 7th grade at McDougle Middle School. She wants to make a difference in middle school students' expectations about drinking in high school through the Safe Homes Network.

"I hope we can get it started in middle schools, where there's more control, and make it the norm that it's not acceptable -- that parties do not include alcohol and drug use," Brandewie said. "So, when they get to high school, they'll be accustomed to the expectation of their parents and the community -- that drugs and alcohol are not involved in parties."

"She's a breath of fresh air," Vickie Mendes said of Pratt-Wilson. "For her to have done what she's done to this point is wonderful."
Mendes has 9th-grade twins.

"They know kids who smoke and drink. It's too bad that they're doing that at this age," she said. "Luckily, I have good kids and I trust them but I know these influences are all around them."

When her children were in middle school, she said, she knew their friends and their friends' parents. But high school is a different story.

"It's real scary," she said. "Kids think that the norm is they will be drinking by the time they're juniors. They think that's so old. We really do have to change that."

Matt Sullivan, a police crisis counselor with the Chapel Hill Police Department, is confident that things are changing.

"Safe Homes Network is so encouraging to me," he said. "It supports the visual representation of parents united. That's a prong we've been missing for a long time around here. My first belief is that if parents talk to each other and stand unified on a non-using front, that goes a long way in preventing adolescent substance abuse. A lot of parents care and feel they're isolated in their perspective. Safe Homes proves they're not.

"Dale has really taken this issue by the horns," Sullivan said.

"What I admire about Dale is that in spite of a community that didn't readily pick up the message, she kept it out there. She's got more people talking about the issue."

There will be a parent information meeting on substance and technology risks at 7 p.m. April 25 at East Chapel Hill High School -- just before the proms.

For more on Safe Homes Network and to sign the pledge, see:

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Media Literacy

Dear Parents and Coalition members,

The Committee for Alcohol and Drug Free Teenagers is sponsoring a workshop on Media Literacy for any and all adolescents in our area. It boasts the three essential F', free and food.

We think if you read the attached flyer, you will see that the subject matter will appeal to the "attitudes" of many of our kids. Whether you are a parent, a youth leader or both, this is an afternoon worth encouraging your teenagers to attend.

Thanks and Best,

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Community Coalition Meeting

The Committee for Alcohol & Drug Free Teenagers of Chapel Hill & Carrboro invites you to attend a coalition meeting to discuss community-wide efforts to combat underage drinking and drug use and to share future strategies aimed at addressing this persistent public health and safety concern.

This meeting is open-to-the-public.
All citizens and stakeholders are encouraged to attend.
(Please freely distribute this invitation.)

Thursday, January 26th at 12 noon

Change of Venue:
Hargraves Recreational Center, 216 N Roberson Street, Chapel Hill
The meeting will be held in the main hall.
(go up the front steps and enter through the front door)
There is parking on both the left and the right sides of the Hargraves Center.

A complimentary lunch will be served. Please RSVP to
by January 23rd, if you plan to attend, so food can be properly arranged.

Dale Pratt-Wilson