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Cumberland County Launches New Campaign To Fight Underage Drinking

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FAYETTEVILLE — Many parents will ring in the new year with a glass of champagne, but what about your children? Substance Abuse Experts say this is the perfect time to talk to kids about the dangers of underage drinking.

Elizabeth Ramos is cooking up a family night to bring in the new year. Alcohol will not be a part of it.

She knows the damage drinking can do. She comes from a family of alcoholics, and her daughter experimented with liquor at a young age.

"It estranged us, and it created a great deal of tension, a great deal of sadness, anger and separation of emotions," Ramos said.

Educating teenagers about alcohol's effect on them and their families is the focus of a new Cumberland County Mental Health Campaign.

Across Fayetteville, employees at grocery stores and businesses are posting signs and wearing pins that say: Got ID? No, Get milk.

It is a way to encourage underage drinkers to sip something that is healthy instead of alcohol.

Substance Abuse Counselor Marilyn Richmond works with children who started drinking as earlier as 12 years old. She says peer pressure and the environment kids grow up in make it difficult to say no. That is where parents have to step in.

"A child drinks at 12, the chances of him or her continuing to drink through adulthood is 80 times greater than someone who starts at 21 years old," Richmond said.

Many parents may offer their children a glass of non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice to ring in the new year.

Counselors say that is not such a good thing.

"It really sets a precedent for a lifetime of disaster," Richmond said.

It tells kids that they cannot have alcohol yet, but here is a substitute.

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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