Forum on teen drinking

Takes place March 1 at MIHS

Reporter staff

A mother-and-son duo who co-authored a book about binge drinking will present their story at 7 p.m. on March 1 at Mercer Island High School for a community forum. Chris Volkmann and Toren Volkmann, authors of “From Binge to Blackout: A Mother and Son Struggle With Teen Drinking” will talk about what they learned in their experience with substance abuse and their family.

The Volkmann’s book details the warning signals the family missed as alcohol and drugs invaded their “perfect American family.” Since 2004, the Volkmanns, who are from Olympia, have teamed together to make powerful, discussion-provoking presentations to young people, parents and other community members on the dangers and consequences of alcohol. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that about 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinking of five or more drinks.

Adolescent alcohol and other drug use has become a critical issue for the Mercer Island community. Rates of use as reflected in the biannual Healthy Youth Survey have been higher than in most communities for many years. This summer, story in the New York Times called, “The Grim Neurology of Teen Drinking,” featured an interview with Toren Volkmann, as it highlighted the brain research and implications teen drinking has on the growing teen mind. The full article may be read at

The Volkmanns will present their direct, authoritative program in 2 parts:

On the evening of March 1, there will be a presentation to parents that will be followed by a program of dessert and coffee, and information from other resources and social service agencies. Please come and stay, mingle, talk to the co-sponsors, and chat with Toren and Chris.

The Volkmanns will speak to the MIHS student body on March 2. Their visit, which is jointly sponsored by Mercer Island High School and Communities that Care, and supported by grants from several local organizations, promises to help the community’s ongoing efforts to combat a deeply ingrained “culture of drinking.”

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