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Partnership battles drug, alcohol abuse

What if you read the headlines, '315,000 die in violent, senseless deaths,' in this decade? Just another mind-numbing, Third World tragedy? It is not. According to the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America, this body count is a conservative estimate of the number of lives lost to drug- and alcohol-related injuries in the United States since 2000. (This does not include death from illness related to alcohol and drug use.)

According to Ralph Hingson, from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol is the No. 1 killer of our young people. He reports alcohol is involved in more than 50,000 injury deaths annually (More than half of all deaths for those younger than 44), 40 percent of unintended injury deaths, 47 percent of homicides, and 29 percent of suicides.

When you see figures like these it easy to think, 'There is nothing I can do about that.' But there is! With a growing sense of urgency, individuals across the nation are working together to address these crucial issues. They are investing themselves in solving our society's deepest wounds. Generous with their time and resources, they are saving the lives of their family and friends.

Our local community effort to address teenage drug and alcohol use is called the Greater Gresham Area Prevention Partnership (GGAPP). Parents, faith and civic leaders and youth and business leaders are working together to decrease the risks that lead to teenage alcohol use. By supporting and encouraging healthy activities for East Multnomah County families, teens can be safe and sober.

In Oregon, a statewide effort called Oregon Healthy Teens survey (OHT) monitors the health and well-being of adolescents. In Multnomah County 52 percent of teens in 11th grade drank alcohol in the 30 days prior to taking the OHT survey. And 54 percent of 11th-grade students said it is very easy to get alcohol. To GGAPP members, this is alarming.

People are coming together around the table to take action to stop this senseless destruction to our young people. To get involved, visit the Web site at www.ggapp.org or call the Police Activities League, 503-823-0088. As we all know, together anything is possible.

Maura Cioeta is the executive director of the Police Activities League, while Gary Tribbett is pastor at Clear Creek Community Church.