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Sticker Shock? It’s A Good Thing!

Kalamazoo County Substance Abuse Task Force Sticker Shock at a local grocery store

On a Saturday morning in the beginning of each spring you may have noticed groups of teenagers running about your local grocery and beverages stores furiously placing stickers on multi-packs of alcoholic beverages. At the Kalamazoo County Substance Abuse Task Force (KCSATF) we call this “Sticker Shock”. Hundreds of youth in the Kalamazoo community come together to ‘shock’ the community, placing over 10,000 stickers that spread a message to adults, encouraging them not to supply alcohol to minors. The event comes just before spring break and prom season, a time we know that youth are susceptible to the pressures of underage drinking.

Sticker Shock is one of the two community awareness events that the KCSATF hosts. The event is led entirely by our Youth Action Team (YAT), a workgroup of the KCSATF, made up of 14-19 year olds representing youth organizations, groups and schools throughout Kalamazoo County.

YAT members choose a theme, submit it and vote on the design that appears on the stickers, t-shirts, and billboards. The event is then promoted among peers, within schools extending invitations to friends and other teens that will help recruit local alcohol retailers to participate. This positive message is then promoted on The Lori Moore Show and local radio stations, 106.5 WVFM and 1660 The FAN. While Sticker Shock makes a great impact in one day, to the youth involved and the adults receiving the message we hope that it leaves a lasting impact.

If you’re wondering where we came up with the idea for Sticker Shock, it was developed based on a need in the community and data to support it. Did you know that most Kalamazoo County youth report accessing alcohol from someone they know who bought it for them, or gave it to them for free? As a matter of fact, 61% of high school students and 46% of middle school students who drank recently said that was how they obtained their alcohol, as opposed to buying it from local retailers (5% and 4%, respectively).

Recently released was the 2016 Community Report (PDF) (“Making Connections”) on youth substance use trends in Kalamazoo County. The report notes local emerging trends, like youth use of marijuana, e-cigarettes, heroin, and prescription medication abuse. The report can be a guide for Individuals, organizations, and businesses to gain knowledge and use to help reduce youth substance. The report shows that middle school use of alcohol, marijuana, inhalants, tobacco, and prescription drug misuse has mostly remained below 5%, and high school use of those substances has been on a steady decline in the past 6 years.

Help support our Youth Action Team or get involved in the 2017 Sticker Shock as a community member. If you are a parent or an adult in the community, talk early and often about the dangers of using substances, and refuse to host underage drinking parties or provide alcohol to minors. For alcohol retailers, we recommend making sure staff members are trained on the responsible sale of alcohol and tobacco products, not selling to minors, and inviting youth participating in Sticker Shock to place stickers on your multi-packs of alcoholic beverages. We’ll “get the ball rolling” but need your help to make a lasting impact.

Shock the community on Saturday, March 18! If you have a group of youth that would like to participate in Sticker Shock, or are a retailer who is interested in signing up to be a participating store, call Ashley Bergeon, Task Force Coordinator at 269-364-2142 or email

To learn more about the Task Force, check us out on Facebook!

The Kalamazoo County Substance Abuse Task Force was formed back in 2007 in response to a spate of heroin overdose deaths among Portage youth. The Task Force is a coalition that connects Kalamazoo county organizations, agencies, and people who have an interest in reducing youth substance use. They recently released the 2016 Community Report (“Making Connections”) on youth substance use and trends in Kalamazoo County. The Kalamazoo County Substance Abuse Task Force is housed at Prevention Works.

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