In 2006, the Marin County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Social Host Ordinance, levying fines of up to $2,500 on adults who hold parties in which underaged guests consume alcohol. The ordinance, which was followed by similar laws passed in every city in Marin, emerged in the aftermath of the November 2005 deaths of a pair of Novato teens who got drunk at an 18th birthday party and later crashed into a tree on Indian Valley Road.
Grier Mathews, a Corte Madera mom and a member of the Twin Cities Coalition for Healthy Youth, says that the ordinance has had a positive impact over the years, but it has also lulled some parents to naively assume that the problem has been addressed.
“As long as teenagers will be teenagers, it’s a problem that you have to stay vigilant on,” she says. “This is happening right under your nose.”
The latest attempt to target the issue takes place Tuesday night at Redwood High, and based on the response – a sold-out event that has sold more than 700 tickets – there’s still plenty of interest in Marin about the topic.
The event, dubbed “It Can Happen in Marin: Educating Marin’s Parents About the Prevalence and Pitfalls of Alcohol and Drugs,” features Kristina Wandzilak and her mother, Constance Curry of San Rafael, the co-authors of the 2006 book The Lost Years: Surviving a Mother and Daughter's Worst Nightmare. The book chronicles Wandzilak’s years-long tailspin into alcohol and drug addiction starting at age 13.
Wandzilak, who grew up in and began her downward spiral in Marin, has since become a respected substance abuse counselor, speaking about addiction and recovery across the country. She’s also an “interventionist” with a practice in San Anselmo and is featured in Addicted, a Discovery Fit & Health reality show that follows people struggling with addiction as they work with Wandzilak.
“Parents are more and more worried about what’s going on with our children when it comes to drugs and alcohol,” Mathews says.
Are you going to this event? Is alcohol and drug use among teens in Marin as big of a concern as it was prior to the passage of the Social Host Ordinance? Let us know in the Comments.