2006 September 03 Sunday
Wyoming Teens Big Alcohol Abusers
Kids in Wyoming are bored out of their minds by the desolation and get wasted on alcoholic beverages.
A federal government survey recently confirmed what residents of Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas already knew: people there drink to excess, at very early ages, well above the national average.
The survey, conducted over three years by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, said south-central Wyoming led the nation with the highest rate of alcohol abuse by people age 12 and older. In Albany and Carbon counties, more than 30 percent of people under age 20 binge drink — 50 percent above the national average.
In examining behavior in 340 regions of the country, the survey found that 7 of the top 10 areas for under-age binge drinking — defined as five or more drinks at a time — were in Wyoming, Montana and North and South Dakota.
What I find curious about this: Video games, text messaging phones, and the internet have not become big enough sources of teen entertainment to stop kids in rural areas from getting blotto. How to keep teenagers in rural areas sufficiently distracted to prevent them from dying behind the wheel drunk out of their skulls?
Parents who think cities are poisonous influences on their kids with drugs and gangs ought to consider the threat of going too far in the other direction.
I'm thinking some day when DNA testing is really cheap and lots of genetic risk factors for drug and alcohol abuse are known parents will want to check for genetic risk factors for alcoholism before deciding to move their families out into the sticks. Given the wrong variation on alcohol dehydrogenase the prudent parent might want to consider raising their kids in a town where the local culture frowns on alcohol consumption. Anyone know which parts of America have very low levels of alcohol consumption?
Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas are states with heavy American Indian populations. Their vulnerability to alcohol and substance abuse is well known. What is the alcohol binge rate in Iowa, where the landscape is also remote and desolate, but the population much more Anglo?
There's also a difference in risk of alcoholism between European subpopulations. Scandinavians are at much greater risk and, sure enough, lots of Scandinavians settled the upper plains states.
The new york times just had an article about embryo selection for families that carry genes that activate breast or colon cancer. If someone will select embryos to let their children escape the horrors of cancer you'd better believe they'd also select so they can escape the horrors of alcoholism.
Try the Missouri Ozarks. Branson, Missouri, for example, has more theater seats than the entire east coast at its biggest (say the late '40s) an attracts folks from many surrounding states, yet the hardcore boozing and abuse so common on ht East coast and in Hollywood is virtually non-existent. The hillbilly traditions and the predominance of the Southern Baptist, Pentecostal and Assembly of God churches have limited the grotesque levels of collective youth suicide so common in urban areas and (apparently) in Wyoming. Although, as one of the writers says, don't discount the Indian factor -- everyone knows that Indians as a group are out of control booze hounds. So give us the white Wyoming statistics, not the white and Indian statistics before you try to scare us.
"Although, as one of the writers says, don't discount the Indian factor -- everyone knows that Indians as a group are out of control booze hounds. So give us the white Wyoming statistics, not the white and Indian statistics before you try to scare us."
The largest ancestry groups in Wyoming are: German (25.9%), English (15.9%), Irish (13.3%), American (6.5%), Norwegian (4.3%), Swedish (3.5%)
I'd discount the Indian factor in Wyoming, since they appear to make up less than 3.5% of the population. South Dakota may be a different story (The five largest ancestry groups in South Dakota are: German (40.7%), Norwegian (15.3%), Irish (10.4%), Native American (8.3%), English (7.1%). South Dakota Demographics)