Drugs may not be the biggest substance abuse problem in West Virginia

By Abrad · Jul 23, 2006 ·
  1. Abrad
    A new study suggests alcohol is still the drug of choice in rural America.

    While drugs get almost all the attention on the news, it turns out that alcohol is still the drug of choice in Appalachia. A new study out of the University of New Hampshire shows alcohol abuse is a much bigger problem than drugs in rural areas. Even worse, Dr. Robert Walker of the Robert C. Byrd center for Rural Health says it's a problem no one wants to talk about. He says the Appalachian stereotype of a mountain person with moonshine haunts many residents who feel they already get an unfair rap from the public.

    The rural expert says West Virginia mirrors findings in the study that show teen drinking on the rise with young men leading the way. He says part of the problem is a culture that teaches young people that it is alright to drink when attending sporting or entertainment events. He also says adults are not telling teens about the many consequences of choosing to drink such as fatal traffic accidents. Another consequence of alcohol is domestic violence and violence against children, two more subjects people prefer to avoid discussing.

    The doctor says binge drinking is also growing. He says full blown alcoholics can usually hold more alcohol but binge drinkers have less tolerance meaning they get drunk faster. Add to that, that many West Virginian's consider drinking an activity-related tradition making excess drinking easier to ignore

    While addiction counselors can help those who want to quit, Dr. Walker says it's up to parents to help their children make the right choice from the start.

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