Tuesday evening in Missoula community members met at the University of Montana to discuss prevention of underage drinking and drug abuse.

Local physicians spoke to students, parents and teachers about the trends they're seeing, including alcohol abuse at younger ages.

The keynote speakers discussed different ways to communicate with kids about drug and alcohol abuse – for example, it’s important children know that they're being listened to and explaining to them that not "everyone" is drinking.

One physician explained that parents play the primary role in their children's behavior and that it’s important for parent to set a good example.

Dr. Donald Damschen, a Montana surgeon, said he thinks it’s important for parents to talk to their children about drug and alcohol abuse especially because they have the biggest influence on what choices their children make. 

“Rape, murders, stabbings, shootings and we had all of those in the little town of Plains, so much for Mayberry, huh? But we had all of those that year and 100 percent of them were alcohol-related and it really kind of shook me up a little bit,” said Damschen.  “I began to ponder, what am I doing talking about methamphetamine when the real issue is alcohol?”

The Missoula Forum for Children and Youth put together an informational packet for parents about talking to their children about drugs and alcohol.  To take a look click here.