OK: Oklahoma Task Force Cracks Down On Underage Alcohol Sales
By Kelly Ogle
September 22, 2015
OKLAHOMA CITY – Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among kids in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In Oklahoma City, there’s an effort to stop underage drinking by going to one of the sources, the stores that continue to sell to minors. One woman who hit rock bottom is leading that cause.
“I consider myself an expert at underage drinking,” Maurianna Adams said.
That’s because at one time during her teen years, Adams drank — a lot.
“Because of my family history, I thought those were the natural things to do,” she said.
She said alcohol was just the start.
“Mixing with prescription drugs, Lortabs, Xanese, ecstasy, which lead to a lot of blackouts and injuries,” she remembered.
She finally sobered up when she hit 20, now five years later; she works at Eagle Ridge Institute, a substance abuse prevention and treatment facility. Partnered with the Oklahoma County Metro Alcohol Task Force, they go out to uncover underage drinking through alcohol compliance sting operations.
“We’re not out here to try to trick these stores,” Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Dan Stow said. “We want to give them every opportunity to do the right thing and do what they’re supposed to do and check these IDs.”
Using a 15-year-old volunteer, undercover officers watch as he goes into metro stores to try and buy beer or alcohol. The task force conducted approximately 200 stings in the last year with an average of 86 percent of the stores passing the test.
“We’re having a lot of issues in the area with convenient store selling so that’s what we’re trying to curb,” said Mark Jerrigan with the Bethany Police Department.
Even if they don’t buy it, Adams knows teenagers can still get it, so she also mentors youth groups like the one at Santa Fe South. The group, 2 Much 2 Lose, works with Adams to spread awareness among their peers about the dangers of underage drinking.
“The first thing I want you guys to know is that it’s not so common, that actually the majority of people don’t do that,” Adams told the teens during a meeting at the school. “There’s people really out there suffering, they’re probably your friends or your family members or somebody that you love.”
But she says those who do, can become statistics, linked to crime, violence, teen pregnancies, low education, alcohol poisonings and eventually drug use. According to a HelpGuide.org, the average age an American girl has her first drink is 13; for a boy, it’s 11.
“I guess in a way I’m giving back and really trying to prevent youth from going through some of the things went through,” she said.
According to the CDC, kids who start drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life.
More from the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/underage-drinking.htm