It’s back-to-school time on college campuses across the country, and for students that means kick-off events and lots of free stuff from local vendors eager to market themselves. At one such event on the campus green of Kennesaw State University (KSU) in Cobb County, Ga., outside Atlanta, many of those students –- including incoming freshman -– received a plastic cup, a bottle opener and a ping pong ball, all printed with the Domino’s Pizza logo and the nearest store’s phone number. If you’ve been out of the college scene for a while, this may seem a strange collection of items. But many college students know these are just the right tools for playing a drinking game called “beer pong.” The only thing missing is the beer. The rules for beer pong, much like Monopoly, vary from place to place, according to bpong.com, organizers of the Beer Pong World Series and self-styled “center of the beer pong universe.” But the overall goal is to bounce a ping-pong ball into a plastic cup. If you miss, you drink.
KENNESAW, Ga. – Convening policy-makers, law enforcement officials and representatives from the courts, The Cobb Alcohol Task Force on Monday hosted a conference to develop plans to reduce underage drinking. The daylong Justice System Response to Underage Drinking: Roadmap for Improvement held at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia, brought the “significant players to the table,” according to Alisa Bennett-Hart, Cobb Alcohol Taskforce’s public relations specialist. “Sometimes we have to get everybody together to listen to what they have to say,” Bennet-Hart said. “This [conference] is us listening.”
The morning began with presentations and an hour-long roundtable panel discussion by a mixture of experts from law enforcement, the courts and advocates. After lunch, participants split into smaller breakout sessions where they could discuss potential strategies. Each session included a mixture of law enforcement, judicial representatives and policy makers.
Police, school and public service groups across Cobb County are joining forces to fight underage drinking. They’re taking aim at parents and other adults who provide alcohol to teens in stores, at neighborhood parties, and inside homes across the area. Ten police, school and government agencies, plus MADD are working with the Cobb Alcohol Taskforce to investigate those who are selling and giving beer, alcopos and other alcoholic beverages to children. “This is not a youth problem, it’s an adult problem,” said Pat Giuliani, who chairs the Youth Services Committee of the Georgia PTA. Police chiefs from Acworth, Austell, Kennesaw, Marietta, Smyrna, Cobb Police, the Sheriff’s Office, the public schools, Kennesaw State, and Southern Polytechnic stood with representatives from MADD, the PTA, the Department of Revenue, the County Solicitor’s Office and the Cobb Alcohol Task Force at a news conference Thursday inside Kennesaw City Hall.
The Kennesaw Police Department’s response to a citizen complaint, which resulted in the arrest of 32 people involved in an underage drinking party on December 29, is to be applauded. As law enforcement officers entrusted with maintaining the peace and protecting public safety, the KPD fulfilled their duty by enforcing the law. But recent coverage (in the Marietta Daily Journal) of this incident does not tell the whole story. “According to estimates from SAMHSA [the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration] Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), on New Year’s Day 2009, an estimated 1,980 ED [emergency department] visits involved underage drinking, compared with 546 such visits on an average day that year; this represents nearly 4 times the average number of visits….The number of ED visits involving underage drinking was also generally higher on New Year’s Day than on an average day during either the Memorial Day weekend or the Fourth of July weekend.” The report cites “greater access to alcohol, less parental oversight and mixed messages from parents” as influencing this uptick in underage drinking and increased ED visits. The findings are in line with other research showing more alcohol-related problems over the winter holidays.
On the heels of the fight to keep caffeine-packed alcoholic “energy drinks” out of the hands of young people, a new health concern is emerging over a new product — whipped cream with a twist. Cans of flavored alcohol-infused whipped cream, yes whipped cream, with names like Cream and Whipped Lightening have been popping up on local liquor store shelves. Much like the alcoholic energy drinks that the Federal Drug Administration threatened to ban in November (the maker of the controversial Four Loko brand has agreed to remove caffeine and two other ingredients, guarana and taurine), the toppings come in flavors like raspberry, German chocolate, cherry, Amaretto, caramel and vanilla flavors, which are especially inviting to young people. Similarly these so-called “whipahols” also pack a powerful punch at 15 percent alcohol, about 30-proof. Depending on how much is consumed, some experts contend, that can be about three times the amount found in beer.
November 12, 2010, Marietta, GA – Cobb Alcohol Taskforce is proud to announce that Cobb Alcohol Taskforce Coordinator, Cathy Finck, was awarded the Prevention Pioneer in Georgia Award. The award was given by the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases at a recent 4th Annual Georgia School of Addiction Studies at a conference recently held in Savannah, Georgia. The award was given to Finck and five of her peers in acknowledgement of their continual dedication and contributions to prevention in Georgia.
The award ceremony included a brief recap of Cathy Finck’s career in prevention:
“Cathy Finck has worked in the substance abuse field for 22 years and her experience mirrors the theme of this year’s conference…from Prevention to Treatment to Recovery. Cathy has pioneered efforts for involving Georgia families in substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery systems and services. Cathy has consulted with many organizations on substance abuse related issues for children and families, community mobilization and coalition building, environmental system change, strategic planning and public policy. Some of the organizations Cathy has worked with over the years are: Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Parent Resources & Information for Drug Education, Georgia Department of Human Resources, Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, Georgia Children and Youth Coordinating Council, The Council on Alcohol and Drugs, Cobb County Safe and Drug-free Schools’ Prevention Intervention Center, National Families in Action and Cobb Community Collaborative. Currently Cathy serves as Coordinator for the Cobb Alcohol Taskforce, as 2nd Vice President for the Georgia Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking, and as a SAMSHA Consultant for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Substance Abuse State Infrastructure Grants.”
About the Cobb Alcohol Taskforce – Cobb Alcohol Taskforce is an alliance of individuals and organizations which mobilizes and challenges Cobb County adults to reduce underage drinking and youth binge drinking, by advancing strategic enforcement, policy and education goals.