Wisconsin's Underage Drinking Problem - Carlos GaminoCarlos Gamino, in addition to being a lawyer working in Milwaukee and Waukesha, is a dad – and as a dad, he’s always concerned about the effects that societal pressures have on Wisconsin’s kids. When a devastated mother recently took to Facebook with the effects of her daughter’s underage drinking in a post that went viral all over the world, it brought to light Wisconsin’s problem with underage drinking.

Underage drinking is a horrible epidemic in Wisconsin with huge financial repercussions – and that doesn’t say anything about the physical and societal problems it causes.

Young people who start drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence; in 2009, the last year for which statistics are available, more than 1,200 kids over 12 and under 20 were admitted for alcohol abuse treatment in Wisconsin.

That’s a staggering figure. We’re not talking about being hospitalized for drunkenness – we’re talking about being admitted to alcohol treatment facilities.

What Happened in Minnesota?

“It took the ER team 3 attempts to intubate Taylor, they tore her throat up in the process. It was necessary – so she could be attached to the ventilator which spent the next 13 hours breathing for her, because she wasn’t able to breathe on her own… My daughter’s symptoms were caused by her blood alcohol level reaching it’s plateau at .43. High enough to kill a grown man… More than 5 times the legal limit… Kids: 2 beers and 6 shots is all it took to almost kill this girl.”

These are quotes by Kelliee Jo Nelson, a Minnesota mom whose daughter drank two beers and four shots in a two-hour period.

Her daughter, Taylor, is fine now – her dad got home in time to rush her to the hospital for treatment – but kids die from underage drinking. It’s a fact. We have penalties in place for kids and for parents who allow underage drinking, but are we doing enough? Does it take a viral Facebook post to get parents and kids to pay attention?

We have to make a change for Wisconsin’s kids. What are your ideas? Are we tough enough on underage drinkers? Are we failing to educate them on the very real dangers? Let me know what you think, either here in the comments or on my Facebook page.

Carlos Gamino