Underage Drinking, Cocaine Use Down In Clinton County - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Underage Drinking, Cocaine Use Down In Clinton County

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The Gateway Impact Coalition reports underage drinking in Clinton County is down 22 percent since 2002 and cocaine use among high school teens is down ten percent since 2005.  

"That is something we're very proud of," Coalition Coordinator Crystal Lawburgh says. 

Stopping drug abuse from the start-- the Gateway Impact Coalition in Clinton County brings teachers, police, pharmacists and other community leaders together to try and curb drug use from an early age, running anti-drug programs starting in the middle schools.  

"It's very beneficial to be proactive and that's what we see happening," Lyons Middle School Principal Dan Boyd says. 

"The first time they're exposed to alcohol, tobacco, it gives them a plan of action, and that plan of action allows them to be proactive and know what their alternatives are in a situation they may not be comfortable," he says. 

The coalition also takes their message to the streets and local stores. Members post information for the public in stores, distribute 'lock bags' to keep prescription drugs out of the wrong hands, and discourage businesses from selling drug paraphernalia or clothing that encourages drug use.  

"By trying to change the environment these drugs and alcohol are available in, we're going to reduce the likelihood the youth are going to use," Lawburgh says. 

They also work with police to target problems early and avoid crime in the future. 

"If we can educate people and discourage substance abuse and illegal drug use, then there's less work for us to do on the reactive side," Clinton Police Chief Brian Guy says.  

While the group says while they're seeing success in these areas, other drugs like marijuana and prescription drugs are not seeing as big of a drop, so they say there's still a lot of work to do. 

"Whether we're hearing this or we're seeing this, or the police department or the sheriff's office might share numbers that arrest rates are up in this area, so that's how we determine what we need to be addressing, and what we need to work on," Lawburgh says.  

Bringing down one community problem at a time.  

"That is the most important thing the community can do, is to come together and work to address issues like substance abuse," Lawburgh says.