East Texas drug abuse prevention experts explore cheaper methods

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Substance abuse isn't going away just because lawmakers cut the budgets of addiction and intervention services.

It is, however, making it a tougher battle to fight.

"Substance abuse affects the whole entire community," said Melissa Mallory, prevention coordinator of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council.

Bringing the community together to be a part of the solution is the next step.

That's what happened during the East Texas region's college forum to prevent underage drinking near the SFA campus.

"To see how we can reduce under-age drinking among our youth," Mallory said.

Local experts on the subject shared new, cheaper strategies.

"I think we need to look at a social ordinance because I think it could be implemented very easily in Lufkin," said Janet Taylor, executive director of The Coalition.

It would impose a fee to the property owner if minors drink there.

"It could also put in the cost of police and their staff for coming out to that party," Taylor said.

SFA actually participated in a study that showed how "Screening and Brief Intervention" could be a low-cost, but effective way of targeting problem-drinkers on campus.

"When youth and college students are getting in trouble this is an opportunity for campus or students to step in, identify if there is a problem and provide students with tools and resources," said Alex Tapia with Texans Standing Tall.

Another idea discussed solves two problems: Revenue shortfalls and the curtailing of underage drinking.

"Alcohol excise tax is with only a dime a drink increase across the board for beer, wine and liquor," Tapia said. "We could see a billion dollars in state revenue a year. Youth are price-sensitive. When it comes to prices of alcohol increasing a dime a drink you will see a decrease in youth drinking."

The forum proves that creative thinking can overcome budget cuts.

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