The war on drugs rarely counts among its victims those ravaged by alcohol, but it should. A recent study found that alcohol remains the drug of choice among college students. Moreover, it is the No. 1 killer of people 15 to 25 -- 8,000 of whom die every year as a result of alcohol-related accidents.
The traditional pedantic response to drinking and driving -- classroom lectures on blood-alcohol levels and a mantra of "just say no" -- falls far short of a solution. There is a better way: The positive peer influence of teens teaching teens about the dangers of drinking and driving, and pushing the alternatives. That is the philosophy of SADD, an acronym for Students Against Drunk Driving. Since its inception in the early 1980s there has been a marked drop in alcohol-related deaths among teens.
For the most part, SADD is an underused tool in Maryland. But PTC the organization is vital and growing in Baltimore County, where the county Office of Substance Abuse has taken an vigilant organizational role. SADD now has chapters in 26 county schools -- 2,000 members all told. More than 400 of them met Tuesday at a day-long seminar sponsored by the county to kick off prom and graduation season. They returned to their schools committed to spreading the word about the dangers of alcohol abuse and launching alcohol-free parties this spring.
SADD is no panacea. But teens helping teens is inarguably one of the most effective tools for battling alcohol abuse among young people. With high school party season on the horizon, Baltimore County's recognition of that simple fact stands as a model.