A recent survey found that seven of the top 10 areas for under-age binge drinking in the U.S. lie in the country's northern plains states such as Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas. Speaking to the New York Times, local residents and experts say boredom among young people is to blame.
"I think so many kids drink because the state is barren, desolate and boring to some people, and there's not really anything to do," Isaiah Springer, a recent high school graduate from Cheyenne, Wy., told the Times.
The all-night beer parties that break the tedium for kids often turn deadly, however. "Had a kid, drunk, flipped his car going 80 miles an hour, and that killed him; and another kid, drink, smashed his boat up against a rock just a couple months ago, killing two; and then there was this beating after a kegger -- they clubbed this kid to death," said Scott Steward, sheriff of Wyoming's Park County.
One federal survey, conducted three years ago, found that south-central Wyoming led the nation in alcohol abuse by people 12 years of age or under. The same survey found that rural 12-and-13-year-olds were twice as likely as urban youth to drink and abuse alcohol. Experts say drug abuse -- especially methamphetamine -- is also rampant in small towns in the north and west central plains.
Others point to an ingrained culture in the region that may encourage also drinking. "We're a frontier culture, and people say, 'I work hard and I'll be damned if I'm not going to have a beer or two on the way home,'" Rosie Buzzas, a Montana state legislator who oversees alcohol counseling services in the western part of the state, told the Times. "There's a church, a school, and 10 bars in every town." - (HealthDay News)
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