Group’s stickers take aim at underage drinking

A DETERRENT — The sticker on top is to be placed over the opening of a bottle of alcohol while the bottom image shows what the sticker will look like after it has been tampered with or removed.

FAIRMONT — The Martin County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition recently received some underage drinking prevention stickers from Epiphany Community Services, a consultant to the coalition.

“It’s a pilot program,” said coalition director Steph Johnson. “They’re trying out this program and made it available to us to give to those in our community who wanted to participate by filling out the survey and trying the prevention stickers.”

The coalition’s goal is to eliminate alcohol, marijuana and prescription drug abuse among youth in Martin County. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States. The CDC also states that “reducing underage drinking will require community-based efforts to monitor the activities of youth and decrease youth access to alcohol.”

Epiphany Community Services sent the coalition about 30 stickers. Johnson has given some to different families.

The intended use of stickers is to place them on a case of beer, a bottle of wine or other alcoholic beverage, to deter youth from using or stealing from their home supply. The stickers have a special shine to them that allows them to display a void message when they have been tampered with or removed.

“This is kind of a neat effort because it’s in-home prevention, especially effective for families who have older kids that would have friends over when the parents aren’t home,” Johnson said. “They actually sent these to us right before the holidays. It’s just another safeguard for parents to be able to keep track of their own alcohol and make sure that it’s not being consumed.”

As the stickers say, underage drinking prevention starts at home. However, coalition members, community volunteers, police and youth coalition members also have participated in a sticker shock campaign at liquor stores and businesses that sell off-sale liquor. The idea behind the sticker shock campaign is to target consumers directly about the importance of keeping alcohol out of the hands of youth.

“I think we’ve all heard of the stories where young people take some vodka and then fill the bottle back up with water,” Johnson said. “So if you have a sticker like this on top of the bottle, and if it’s taken off at all, it will look different after tampered with so you’ll definitely know as a parent whether the bottle was opened.”

Johnson hopes the fact that the stickers say “Stop Underage Drinking” will prevent kids from even attempting to take any alcohol.

She also hopes the stickers will give parents a chance to have a conversation with their kids. One of the questions on the survey that accompanies the sticker is whether someone believe the stickers would deter youth from consuming alcohol in the household.

“I think that’s important to know, to ask your kids, ‘What would stop you from making that choice?'” Johnson said.

For anyone interested in having a conversation with their children about underage drinking, there are tips on how to start on the coalition’s website: