Fewer students reportedly turning to alcohol in Anderson County on prom night

33% of alcohol-related traffic deaths happen during prom season, according to ASAP Anderson.
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 10:28 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Before picking out the perfect prom dress, 17-year-old Imelia Markus-Brock is perfecting a safety plan for her first prom.

“I just want to wear a dress that I feel amazing in and just have a lot of fun with my friends,” Markus-Brock said.

Around this time every year, the teen substance prevention group, ASAP of Anderson, launches a social media campaign to encourage teens to stay sober on prom night and avoid drinking and driving. For the first time, they’re paying students like Markus-Brock to help make their message stick.

“We’re just trying to let all of our youth know that even though drinking and doing drugs might seem fun, it can get out of hand really easily. So just informing them that it’s a dangerous thing that they need to be aware of that,” Markus-Brock said.

ASAP Anderson now has a Youth Ambassador Coalition, which has worked together to create a poster to display and keycards to give out with the tagline, “One Decision Can Change Everything: Make this a night to remember, not a night you want to forget.”

While the students are busy talking to the students, the ASAP adults have shared a message with parents.

“Most teenagers will listen to their parents, even though a lot of people think that they won’t, but they will,” said Communications Manager Chantel Harris. “Three out of four teenagers say that their parents are the number one influence in them not drinking or doing drugs. So, it’s very important that parents have those conversations.”

Harris said 33% of alcohol-related traffic deaths happen during prom season. ASAP’s mission appears to show success as fewer students are turning to alcohol. They’ve also even seen a more than 50% drop in substance use.

“But we still see about 3% or so of students doing underage drinking, but we do see other substances like Delta-8 and vaping on the increase and a lot of students are turning towards that,” Harris said.

The Tennessee Highway Safety Office is paying for an “I AM ONE” selfie studio during all Anderson County and Clinton proms this year.