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April 14, 2008, 3:00 p.m. CT

Jen Rae Hein, 402-471-1967
Ashley Cradduck, 402-471-1970


Gov. Heineman Welcomes U.S. Surgeon General;
Declares April Alcohol Awareness Month

(Lincoln, Neb.) Gov. Dave Heineman today welcomed Acting U.S. Surgeon General Steven Galson to Nebraska by proclaiming April as Alcohol Awareness Month in the state.

“Recent surveys indicate that Nebraska youth drink at slightly higher rates than those across the country,” Gov. Heineman said. “We need to change that and I’m delighted to welcome Dr. Galson as we look at new ways to reach out to young people and their families and engage others in our communities to join the fight against alcohol and other drug abuse.”

Rear Admiral Galson was invited to visit the state by Nebraska’s First Lady, Sally Ganem, as part of a nationals first spouses’ initiative. The Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free Foundation has partnered with the Office of the Surgeon General in support of the Call to Action on Underage Drinking issued last year.

Ganem said, “We believe it is a way to move the national conversation about childhood drinking to a wider audience. The bottom line to reducing underage drinking starts at home, but involves much more than just parents and family members. We need more people in our communities to get engaged on this issue. We need change the perception that drinking is a rite of passage. Our young people need to understand the risks they are taking when they choose to drink, and we need more people to be involved in helping young people make better, safer choices.” 

Dr. Galson will speak during a community meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at the Nebraska Educational Telecommunications building, located at 1800 N. 33rd St. in Lincoln. He will visit the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) campus tomorrow, Tuesday, April 15, to participate in a meeting being held at UNO’s Milo Bail Student Center at 1 p.m. Both events are open to the public.

Dr. Galson said, “Alcohol is the most widely used and abused substance among our nation’s youth, more than tobacco or illicit drugs. Underage drinking contributes to violent crime, traffic accidents, burns, drowning, alcohol poisoning, addiction and dependency and suicide attempts. This is unacceptable and preventable.”

Between 2004 and 2007, Nebraska received $7.5 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which was distributed to 15 community coalitions that served 60,000 Nebraska youth by focusing on preventing substance abuse among 12 to 17 year olds.

Progress reports indicate middle school students in communities receiving funding reported decreases in binge drinking and tobacco use.

In 2004, the state developed the Nebraska Partners in Prevention (NePiP), which is made up of 23 representatives from various state agencies involved in substance abuse prevention efforts. NePiP has developed state, regional and community prevention strategies and provides technical assistance to community groups to help maximize their funding.

In 2006, Nebraska was awarded $10 million from SAMHSA as part of a new effort, which prioritized efforts targeting the prevention of alcohol use of those age 17 and younger, reducing binge drinking among those18 to 25, and reducing alcohol impaired driving across all age groups. Nearly $9 million will be distributed to community coalitions over a five-year period.

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