Teens soaking gummy bears in alcohol causes concerns - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Teens soaking gummy bears in alcohol causes concerns

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ROANOKE, VA -

A national trend is causing concern among parents. It involves teenagers soaking gummy bears in vodka to get drunk.

We talked with Kathy Graham Sullivan, director of the Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition, also known as RAYSAC. Sullivan said while it is not a trend locally, this is happening in many parts of the country.

"Working in this field you hear about new ways teenagers are coming up with to consume alcohol, so it is not necessarily a shock to us, but it is very dangerous," said Sullivan, RAYSAC director.

RAYSAC sends out surveys every two years to track trends among teens, when it comes to substance abuse. They talk to students in Roanoke City, Botetourt, Craig County and Salem.

Sullivan shared with us some of the results from 2011. She said 23% of high school students in the Roanoke Valley reported binge drinking.

"That is just one percent below the national average," said Sullivan. "It's a huge concern. There are several health risks there."

Ashley Hatcher, a prevention specialist who leads discussion groups with local teens, said for the most part teenagers are drinking more beer, because liquor is harder to get.

"Another trend we're seeing is alcohol mixed with caffeine drinks, which is extremely dangerous," said Hatcher.

Hatcher said the goal is to make parents and students aware of the dangers, with the hopes of deterring students from trying it and encouraging parents to help prevent it.

"All we can do is educate ourselves, parents and teens, and hope they make the best decision," said Hatcher.