It’s not uncommon to hear the tragic stories of teenagers who die in car accidents after drinking and driving. But alcohol is also taking the lives of young people in other ways and now the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is taking new measures to try and stop deaths. The TABC has announced a new amnesty program, hoping teenagers will come forward and seek help if they suspect one of their friends is suffering from alcohol poisoning. But some say the efforts are appreciated, but may not do much good. “We do have a very big problem in Laredo with teen drinking,” says medical examiner Dr. Corrine stern. “Unfortunately its not if its going to happen its when its going to happen,” says Estella Quintanilla of Laredo Crimestoppers. These two women know first hand about problems Laredo teens are getting themselves into, specifically underage drinking. “There are some places that charge an entrance fee of 25 dollars a person as an entrance fee to a party,” Quintanilla said. “Penitas ranch, Las Lomas, I can name these places kids go to the same address that show up all the time.” In exchange for the 25-dollar fee, teenagers can drink all night and in many cases drink themselves into a coma and eventually death as a result of alcohol poisoning. “Individuals can start vomiting and because they've lost their gag reflexes they can choke on their vomit.” While many teenagers may recognize signs that something is wrong, they usually never go to authorities in fear they may be cited for underage drinking. Now the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is trying to change that “saying agents will not cite minors for illegal possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages if an individual seeks assistance because of a medical emergency.” “I think its awesome we need to encourage and need to educate teens on what are the symptoms and again don’t just let your friends sleep it off.” Despite the efforts to help ... not everyone feels teens will take advantage of the program. “If it comes down to saying a life them I’m all for it that’s not the problem the problem is students coming forward there’s still a mentality of being a snitch they don’t want to be a snitch.” Still all agree something has to be done. “If we can catch those kids in time we can save them” Some of the signs of alcohol poisoning include mental confusion, no response to pinching of the skin, and irregular breathing. And the problem is not only the alcohol; Quintanilla says alcohol many times will lead to drug problems.
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