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Town Hall meeting with local leaders addresses underage drinking, drug use

SUNY Student Assembly President Austin Ostro, second from left, speaks at the Our Community, Our Health, Our Future Town Hall meeting on October 1. Photo by Patrick Dodson.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct. 10, 2019) – Community leaders, law enforcement officials, subject matter experts, students and the public convened in the Campus Center Ballroom last week to discuss an issue affecting campuses and communities nationwide: underage drinking and drug use.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 11 percent of alcohol consumed in the United States is by people age 11 to 20 – despite the fact that they’re not legally permitted to purchase it. Two in 10 high school seniors reported having used prescription medication without a prescription — before having even experienced the freedom that college life provides.

student at town hall

A student asks a question at the Our Community, Our Health, Our Future Town Hall meeting. Photo by Patrick Dodson.

The Our Community, Our Health, Our Future Town Hall meeting offered national, state and regional perspectives on the matter and was designed to highlight strategies and best practices. Guests were able to ask questions and speakers included Congressman Paul D. Tonko (NY-20), Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy, Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins and NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, Associate Commissioner for Division of Prevention Services Patricia Zuber-Wilson. The student perspective was shared by Austin Ostro, a graduate student at the University and SUNY Student Assembly President and Board of trustees member.

In an interview with Spectrum News, Dolores Cimini, UAlbany’s director of Behavioral Health Promotion and Applied Research and licensed psychologist, said underage drinking and drug use occur on college campuses nationwide, in part because students are away from their parents for the first time.

“With new freedom, peer pressure and less structure, there is a temptation to engage in excessive drinking and drug use,” she said.

Cimini strongly encourages any UAlbany student who feels they may be struggling with substance misuse to contact Counseling and Psychological Services at (518) 442-5800 or

The Town Hall was coordinated by the Center for Behavioral Health Promotion and Applied Research and Counseling and Psychological Services with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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