For Immediate Release - April 24, 2012

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR MURRAY KICKS OFF SERIES OF 50 STATEWIDE TOWN HALL MEETINGS TO PREVENT UNDERAGE DRINKING AND PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE

State House event is first in a series to convene state officials, advocates, youth and their families to raise awareness about substance abuse hazards

BOSTON – April 24, 2012 – Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, Chair of the Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention, today hosted the first in a series of statewide Town Hall Meetings that will examine what can be done to prevent underage alcohol use, prescription and other forms of drug abuse in the Commonwealth.  Lieutenant Governor Murray was joined by Commissioner John Auerbach of the Department of Public Health, state legislators and student representatives from Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), the state's recovery high schools, and schools across the Commonwealth.

“Massachusetts is proud to join states across the country for this town hall meeting series to help raise awareness and help prevent underage drinking and prescription drug abuse,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray.  “These meetings will provide an opportunity to begin the discussion, but it should not be where it ends.  In working with students, families, schools, and community organizations, we will continue to talk and educate our youth about the consequences of drinking and other drug use before they start.”  

Today's event at the State House is part of a national campaign led by the federal Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD) in partnership with the Patrick-Murray Administration's Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services (BSAS). The series of Town Hall Meetings that will be held across the state are designed to raise awareness and provide youth, parents, caregivers, and other adults with the tools necessary to help protect children, youth and young adults from abusing alcohol and the misuse of prescription and other drugs. 

“The Lieutenant Governor has made awareness and education about the dangers of substance abuse among young people in the Commonwealth one of his top priorities,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr.JudyAnn Bigby. “We know it takes a concerted effort to combat the ways that youth are encouraged to use alcohol and other substances. I’m delighted that we are partnering in this national campaign to host Town Halls and help young people safeguard their health and that of their communities.”

Lieutenant Governor Murray has chaired the Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention since 2008, and has focused on expanding Recovery High Schools; increasing awareness of underage drinking; reforming the Prescription Monitoring Program; and working with local municipalities, individuals, and families to provide resources to help prevent and treat substance abuse.  During today's event, resource materials as well as DVDs of prevention activities in which youth are involved across Massachusetts, were available and will be available for each Town Hall Meeting.  

Communities throughout the Commonwealth are encouraged to communicate with teens about the dangers of underage drinking, and to work together to prevent youths’ access to alcohol. The link between underage drinking, other drug use and the misuse of prescription drugs remains a major concern. By working together, communities can have a dramatic and lasting impact on underage drinking and misuse of prescription and other drugs in Massachusetts. 

“Not a single community meeting goes by where someone doesn’t talk to me about a problem a loved one is having with drugs and alcohol,” said Senator John F. Keenan, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. “This is a pervasive problem that can be found on every block, in every neighborhood, in every community across the Commonwealth. We cannot afford to ignore this ongoing epidemic, or pretend our families, friends and neighborhoods are immune from it.” 

“I am excited to participate in this initiative with my colleagues in the Legislature and the Administration.  The issue of substance abuse among youth is one of the most important public health concerns of this generation.  I hope that through these town hall meetings we will be able to reach both youth and caregivers, and thus reduce the rate of substance abuse, underage drinking, and overdoses," said Representative Elizabeth A. Malia, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

Throughout April and May Town Hall meetings will be held in 50 communities across the Commonwealth as part of the campaign and to engage youth and adults in developing effective solutions. For updates about local events, visit https://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/townhallmeetings.

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