Kate Frey

Kate Frey and Joseph Mollica

AS the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to overlook that April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and the importance of emphasizing responsible alcohol consumption for those 21 and over and recognizing the consequences of alcohol misuse and abuse.

During unsettling times, it is easy for some to turn to alcohol to quell feelings of stress and anxiety. Caring for ourselves is a complex and personal issue, and the lawful and responsible consumption of alcohol is an important part of this process.

Each year, an estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes. In 2014 alcohol-impaired driving accounted for 31% of overall driving fatalities (9,967 deaths). These deaths could have been avoided, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death.

Now more than ever it is critical to be aware of the consequences of excessive or binge drinking and to prioritize healthy behaviors. Studies show that catastrophic events can trigger increased substance misuse. Excessive alcohol consumption can compromise a person’s immune system and increase the risk for respiratory illnesses and other conditions. According to the Mayo Clinic, excessive alcohol use can make it harder for the body to resist disease.

Young people are not immune to the anxiety and pressures. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2018, about 2.2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 drank alcohol in its “past month” survey, and 1.2 million of them binge drank. Although the percentage who drank decreased between 2002 and 2018, about 1 in 11 adolescents in 2018 were “past month” alcohol users. In New Hampshire, 23% of 12 to 20 year olds reported they had more than 5 drinks in the last month, ranking our state as the second highest in the country for underage drinking.

The disruptions caused by COVID-19 can take many forms for young people. From the cancellation of rites of passage like high school proms and graduations, to college students being uprooted from campus life, parents and caregivers need to be vigilant to the signs and effects of alcohol misuse.

It is important for families and communities to talk with their kids about the harms of underage drinking. It can affect growth and brain development. The younger kids are when they start drinking, the harder it is for them to quit, which makes early intervention critical.

This is why it’s so important for organizations like ours to collaborate on effective policy.

The New Hampshire Liquor Commission has the unique responsibility of maximizing revenue for the State’s General Fund, which supports essential programs, including education. As the second largest non-tax revenue generator, NHLC contributed $162 million or 8.3% of General Fund revenues in Fiscal Year 2019.

While the NHLC is extremely successful — the most progressive and profitable of the nation’s 17 control states — it also is hyper-focused on its duty to encourage the responsible sale and consumption and prevention of underage use, through education, partnerships, licensing and enforcement.

New Futures is the state’s leading advocacy organization supporting state and local policies that promote health and wellness, improve prevention, treatment, and recovery programs, and increase healthy early childhood development.

Having a strong state-run alcohol beverage control model that partners with health advocacy organizations is key to preventing alcohol misuse and abuse – especially now. For more information on prevention, treatment, and recovery options, visit The Doorway online at the doorway.nh.gov or call 211.

Kate Frey is vice president of advocacy for New Futures. Joseph Mollica is chairman of the NH Liquor Commission.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

MAY IS Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month — a time to reflect upon and engage with the unique problems these ailments bring to everyday life. From the general misery of congestion to the terrifying reality of shortness of breath, thousands of Americans throughout New Hampshire struggle to co…

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

AS New Hampshire and her neighboring states begin to address the process of reopening retail, restaurants, state offices and business of all kinds, the details of how to do so in a manner that preserves our economy and our personal health is causing significant consternation for many. The id…

THESE last two months have been unlike any in my lifetime. It’s humbling to be reminded how, in the 21st century, there is still little we control and how we are not as all-knowing as we think. Pandemics, it turns out, are great equalizers. No one is immune from the sadness, pain and loss th…

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

A SCHOOL BUS driver, shoe store worker, car salesperson, factory worker, restaurant server, landscaper, dental assistant, online college instructor, dog breeder, hairdresser, hospital administrator, state employee, auto mechanic, construction foreman, child care teacher, janitor, cook, nanny…

NEW HAMPSHIRE’s stay-at-home order was issued March 16th. More than two months later we continue to face serious restrictions that limit our ability to earn a living, our freedom of assembly, and right to worship as we see fit. The continuation of this state of emergency not only inflicts ha…

Friday, May 22, 2020

ON MAY 18, the New Hampshire Union Leader published an oped “Sex work is not work” by Jasmine Grace, founder of Jasmine Grace Outreach, one of many organizations raising awareness about human trafficking by conflating it with adult consensual prostitution.

Thursday, May 21, 2020
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Tuesday, May 19, 2020

GRANITE STATERS believe in liberty — it’s even enshrined in our state motto. A core tenant of liberty is the right to privacy. It is not a coincidence that New Hampshire is a national leader on privacy rights. The right to live, work, and go about one’s business without governmental intrusio…

THE ORIGIN of the phrase “No shirt, no shoes, no service” is likely a dubious response to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but it has become separated from its discriminatory purpose. This phrase can now be pressed into service during the COVID 19 crisis with a modest change: Add a …

Monday, May 18, 2020

I’VE ALWAYS had a negative impression of superstores: cold, impersonal, dull. Everywhere I’ve lived, (San Francisco, London, Seattle, now New York City) I’ve mostly shopped local and tried to support small businesses. Overall, I’ve led a very sheltered, urban retail life.

IF WE focus only on what social media tells us, we are to believe that crime is uncontrollable and overly violent right now. Though crime rates are actually dropping, one thing that social media does have correct is their coverage of rape and sexual assault, two things that have been increasing.

ON MAY 7, the New Hampshire Union Leader published a Reuters article on its back page with the catchy title “Streetwalkers to Sweet Talkers” outlining the dilemma Chile’s prostitutes face under Covid-19 now that they cannot engage in the “intimate” aspect of their trade.