Coalition forms to prevent drug and alcohol abuse among local kids

More than 500 Northern and Central Michigan deaths have been attributed to drug overdoses and poisoning since 2000, according to Northern Michigan Substance Abuse Services. Prescription drugs accounted for the majority of those deaths. Children age 12 to 17 abuse prescription drugs more than ecstasy, crack cocaine and methamphetamines combined.

Alarming statistics like these have inspired a group of Antrim County parents, professionals and other community members to form the Antrim County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.

The Coalition hopes to educate the public and promote a healthy community that is free of drug and alcohol abuse. The program will have a specific focus on the county's youth.

"This is a bigger concern for Antrim County than many people realize," Amy Brown, Community Health Coordinator for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan said. "In a survey of more than 300 Antrim County kids, nearly half said they had tried alcohol by age 13, and also reported that marijuana was easy to get."

Brown went on to say that more than 60 percent said it was easy to get cigarettes and that 12 was the average age for first time tobacco use.

Brown said the Coalition is now comprised of seven members, but is still in it's early stages. Community members are urged to attend the next meeting on Wednesday, November 7th at 6 pm in the Mancelona Family Resource Center.For more information, contact Amy Brown at (231) 587-4370 or