Press Releases

Binge Drinking Growing Less Popular with TN Teens

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; September 22, 2014:

NASHVILLE – Fewer teens and pre-teens in Tennessee are abusing alcohol, according to the findings of a five-year prevention effort. The emphasis was on changing community attitudes and behaviors and the risks of having five or more drinks on one occasion.

Lead by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS), the state’s efforts achieved reductions in binge drinking well beyond the national average. During a period from 2009 – 2013, the statewide rate of binge drinking teens, between the ages of 14 and 17, dropped nearly 16%. In the 18 to 25 age range, the decrease was more than 5%.

“Recognizing that there is a problem is the first step,” said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS). “The reduction in binge drinking speaks to a concerted effort by anti-drug community coalitions in the state, treatment providers, families, and young people themselves.”

Drop in binge drinking reduces alcohol-related incidents

Along with getting more young people in Tennessee to stop binge drinking, a second goal was achieved in reducing the often tragic consequences when teens and pre-teens drink to intoxication. Rates of young people driving drunk, getting arrested, being involved in fatal car accidents and other alcohol related offenses went down.

  • Alcohol Related Arrests down 25%
  • Juvenile DUI Arrests down 24%
  • Alcohol-Related Traffic Fatalities down 14%
  • Driving While Intoxicated down 14%
  • Riding With a Driver Who was Drinking down 11%

“Consuming significant amounts of alcohol can put anyone in danger of harm to themselves and others,” said Commissioner Varney. “Young people are especially at risk. I’m so glad to see how prevention efforts are working to encourage young people to avoid binge drinking and keeping them out of danger and from possible death.”

Press Releases

$4.2M Federal Grant To Support Shelby County Pregnant Teens, Young Moms

Press Release from Gov. Phil Bredesen’s Administration; Oct. 1, 2010:

NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen today announced Tennessee has received a three-year $4.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support pregnant and parenting teens and women. The money will be used to implement the Pregnancy and Parenting Success Program in Shelby County, which leads the state in births to teen mothers.

“I am pleased this grant is driving improvements in Shelby County, an area that is truly the epicenter of teen pregnancy in Tennessee,” said Bredesen. “The lessons we learn in tackling this important issue in West Tennessee can also be applied in other parts of the state.”

The funded project Pregnancy and Parenting Success will work to improve birth and early childhood outcomes by expanding, enhancing and coordinating programs that promote health, education and social services for pregnant and parenting teens and women.

With 20 percent of all teen births in the state, Shelby County leads Tennessee in births to teen mothers. The grant for Shelby County was sought due to the area’s high rate of teen births and its robust network of community stakeholders with a primary focus on coordinating a full range of services for children pre-conception through age eight. The grant will draw from this existing infrastructure to achieve project goals.

Specifically, Pregnancy and Parenting Success will seek to:

·          Improve school attendance and graduation rates among pregnant and parenting teens

·          Improve birth outcomes for teen mothers and other women at high-risk of pre-term or low-birth-weight babies

·          Increase attainment of positive early childhood outcomes

·          Improve economic circumstance of teen parents

Strategies to accomplish project goals include:

·          Identify needs of pregnant and parenting teens in the community

·          Provide a school-based continuum of services to teens

·          Provide concrete resources for pregnant and parenting teens

·          Enhance public education and outreach

“Improving outcomes for pregnant and parenting teens requires a coordinated and comprehensive approach,” said Dr. Michael Warren, medical director for the Office of Children’s Care Coordination. “We are committed to implementing programs that offer the best tools and outcomes to parenting teens who daily face a myriad of challenges.”

Compared to adults who are parents, teen parents are more likely to live in poverty, less likely to marry, more likely to drop out of high school and less likely to earn a GED certificate. Additionally, teen mothers are less likely to receive adequate prenatal care and more likely to have babies at low birth weights.

The grant of $4.2 million over three years was awarded through the Pregnancy Assistance Fund, created by the Affordable Care Act. The Pregnancy Assistance Fund is a competitive grant program that helps states and tribes support pregnant and parenting teens and women. The grants help fund a seamless network of supportive services to help pregnant and parenting teens and women complete high school or postsecondary degrees and gain access to health care, child care, family housing and other critical support.

Tennessee is one of 17 states and tribes to receive a grant from a $27 million fund to support pregnant and parenting teens and women in states and tribes across the country.

For additional information about the Pregnancy Assistance Fund, visit