Teen alcohol abuse a growing epidemic across eastern Carolina

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Drug abuse in eastern Carolina is an ongoing problem.

For teens in Pitt County, their drug of choice is alcohol. Studies show they abuse it more than any other substance.

Law enforcement officers are calling it an epidemic.

Although alcohol is legal, underage drinking is considered substance abuse. Law enforcement officers, substance abuse organizations, and parents say combating the issue, starts at home.

Prescription drugs and heroin, it seems like they’re in the news every day. While those drugs are on the rise, there’s another substance taking over the streets.

“Youth in Pitt County are using alcohol much more than marijuana, heroin, prescription drugs,” said Elizabeth Montgomery Lee, Pitt County Coalition On Substance Abuse.

In 2013, North Carolina spent $1.3 billion because of underage drinking.

Lee said teens tend to choose alcohol because it’s so accessible, “We have young people going into grocery stores, buying alcopops, they’re cheap, sometimes they’re not IDed or they have fake IDs.”

Law enforcement agents have piles of fake IDs from hundreds of people trying to underage drink.

“These fake IDs are causing a problem,” said Chief Randy Andrews, ABC Law Enforcement. “They’re causing a problem with our nation.”

In order to combat the problem, both Andrews and Montgomery Lee say education needs to start at home. That’s exactly what Pitt County parent Melissa Adamson tries to do.

“For my family, having that open dialogue is really important so that when there are questions he feels like he can come to me,” said Melissa Adamson, Pitt County parent, adding that she has regular conversations with her teen about alcohol abuse and makes it clear. She doesn’t tolerate underage drinking. “I believe that with most things your parents are their child’s first and most important teacher.”

The ABC Commission is trying to push a piece of legislation. If accepted and passed, people who are caught using fake ID’s will automatically get their licenses taken away.

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