Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - November 13, 2018. 


Californian’s now facing a pair of wildfires; Also on the Tuesday rundown: Higher education in New Jersey: a racial split; plus food resources still available despite the “public charge” proposal.

Daily Newscasts

Holidays Prime Time for First-Time Teen Alcohol Use in Maine

December is among the top three months for first-time alcohol use among teens and local experts say New England states such as Maine are where kids are more likely to be taking a drink. (Mike Clifford)
December is among the top three months for first-time alcohol use among teens and local experts say New England states such as Maine are where kids are more likely to be taking a drink. (Mike Clifford)
December 24, 2015

AUGUSTA, Maine - We all love a bit of good cheer, but December and the holidays also are prime time for teens to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Jayson Pratt is the vice president and regional clinical director for Phoenix House of New England, a group of nonprofit treatment centers.

He says while many states see spikes in which about one-third of young people end up using alcohol and drugs during the holidays, that trend is even more pronounced in New England states such as Maine.

"What's different about the New England area is that they're starting at significantly higher numbers than the national average," says Pratt. "So, you can see numbers up well over 50 percent of our children, who are using drugs or alcohol within the last 30 days."

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, on an average day in December, more than 11,000 young people nationwide will try alcohol for the first time.

Pratt calls New England the "epicenter" of the nation's drug and opioid epidemic. He says there are a few residential treatment programs for young people in Maine, but they tend to be in urban areas.

"The problem with Maine is population density," he says. "The services will tend to cluster around those highly populated ares, but the vast majority of Maine's population in total lives in a rural setting, where they don't have direct access to the services that those city centers attract."

Pratt says the main reasons substance abuse spikes around holiday times are that families are busy and kids are out of school, meaning less supervision. He cautions parents to reach out to other families, and make sure there will be a responsible adult present when teens pay a visit.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME