Raising the Bar

Marin Voice: Healthy adult modeling matters when it comes to substance-free youth events

By Lisa Klein
Marin Independent Journal

For 12 of the past 13 years, Marin ranked as the healthiest county in California in nearly every measurement.

The glaring exception is in areas related to adult alcohol use. According to data collected by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute for the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps report, Marin’s rates of adult excessive drinking and adult alcohol-impaired driving accidents are higher than most other California counties.

The youth data is also alarmingly high, with 44% of 11th graders reporting use of alcohol or drugs in the past 30 days –almost double the state average. This data indicates the importance of healthy modeling by adults since research shows that we have a significant impact on kids’ decisions regarding alcohol and other substance use.

According to reporting by the National Institutes of Health, children’s perceptions of parental drinking (both quantity and circumstances) appear to influence their own drinking frequency. It is due to these known facts, and the understanding that substance use culture can change in Marin County, that the Raising the Bar (RTB) initiative was developed in 2017.

The goal of RTB is to shift the norms around substance use and encourage modeling of healthy choices at youth sporting events and celebrations, kid-centered holidays like Halloween or pre-prom events with teens.

It is not focused on eliminating adult use of alcohol from our community; rather, adults are encouraged to be mindful of substance use and behavior at youth gatherings.

The campaign, which was developed and continues to grow under the umbrella of the Marin Healthy Youth Partnerships organization, has expanded its reach to 60 schools and organizations across the county.

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