Oswego, NY– Substance abuse throughout Oswego County continues to decrease among students.
The newest Oswego County statistics show alcohol remains the number one drug for minors, but this year’s survey has left a reason for optimism, Prevention Services Director Penny Morley said.
“We did a youth development survey in 2013 and another one in 2016, and our numbers are going down,” said Morley. “It’s just a few percentage points, but even just a few percentage points is better than having an increase.”
According to the survey conducted by Farnham Family Services, nearly 70 percent of high school seniors have used alcohol and experimenting starts in ninth grade. The primary way minors get alcohol is through their own homes, the study showed.
Underage parties cause fights, vandalism, and in the worst case scenarios, fatalities due to drunk driving, Oswego County Undersheriff Gene Sullivan said.
Farnham Family Services worked with schools to organize the Oswego County Prevention Coalition in 2014. The coalition was created in response to determining that teens who use drugs or alcohol before the age of 15 have a higher likelihood of developing addiction as an adult Morley said.
Outside of teaching parents and minors the risks of drinking, police have used other tactics such as undercover sting operations to prevent stores from selling to those underage.
“It used to be if we did a underage buy and bust with 10 businesses seven of them were out of compliance,” said Sullivan. “That’s reversed, we can do 10 now and maybe get one.”
On February 23rd, the State Liquor Authority conducted a sting operation on 10 businesses in Fulton and did catch one store, the Save A Lot on West First Street. Although Undersheriff Sullivan knows it all depends on who may be the clerk that particular day, he knows business owners aren’t willing to take the risk anymore.
“I think there’s been tremendous progress, but it’s been painfully slow, it’s a difficult message to deliver,” Sullivan said.