"Alcohol has been a rising problem pretty much all over the country for our youth," said Sgt. Larry Stobbs, with the St. Joseph Police Department.
Data from the CDC indicates nearly 40 percent of high school students drank alcohol in the last 30 days. Local organizations like the St. Joseph Youth Alliance are aware of the stats.
"Unfortunately alcohol is a gateway to tapping into these more serious things and so we want to really work together as a community and get the word out," said Robin Hammond, director of the Youth Alliance.
Sgt. Larry Stobbs with the St. Joseph Police Department is one that is helping get the word out. He has investigated alcohol related cases throughout his career.
"The younger you are when you start experimenting with alcohol the more you are prone to becoming an alcoholic and having those issues you'll have the rest of your life," said Stobbs.
And it's not just kids that community leaders are worried about. Stobbs says alcohol dependency is affecting the workplace.
"If you got somebody with an alcohol or substance abuse problem that is working at your business, their productivity is going to be down compared to other employees on a given day," said Stobbs.
Stobbs said the economy loses millions of dollars each year from lost work productivity because of alcohol.
"If you're an employer, you're looking at those disability issues, worker compensation issues, those kinds of things, lost productivity, those all impact the bottom dollar," he said.
The Youth Alliance plans to hold more informational sessions in the future to discuss ways to combat substance abuse.