Underage Drinking Prevention
drinking can be defined as a person under the legal age of 21 consuming
alcohol. Alcohol is not only the number one drug of choice among youth,
but also the leading cause of teenage deaths. Each year approximately
6,000 youth die from an underage drinking related incident, which is why
it is important to encourage young people that it is not okay or all
right for them to drink alcohol.
Research indicates that a
person's brain continues to develop well into his or her early to
mid-twenties. Because critical judgment and decision-making skills are
still not fully developed in teens, young people that drink place
themselves in high-risk situations which can lead to teen pregnancy, car
accidents, alcohol poisoning, violence and other serious health issues.
In a recent news release
discussing Alcohol Prevention month, OASAS Commissioner Karen Carpenter
Palumbo states, “We all hear information about underage drinking and how
some students seek to “enhance” their celebrating with alcohol or other
drugs. There are numerous reasons why teens experiment with alcohol.
Alcohol and the promotion of this drug is prevalent in our society. Most
young people are exposed to hundreds of alcohol advertisements, images
and media messages by the time they are teenagers. Alcohol use in the
media is frequently portrayed as fun, sexy and the "grown-up" thing to
do. Often permissive parental attitudes surrounding underage drinking,
community availability and norms favorable towards underage use all
contribute to teenage experimentation”.
Listed are some facts related
to underage drinking:
Alcohol use by
youth is associated with the three most common causes of teenage deaths:
accidental deaths, homicides and suicides.
Higher levels of
alcohol use are linked with unplanned or unprotected sexual activity
among youth, increasing the risk for teen pregnancy and sexually
transmitted diseases including HIV.
More teens drink
alcohol than smoke or use drugs.
Most youth have
their first drink by the time they are 13 years old.
Youth who drink
alcohol before the age of 15 are more likely to become alcohol dependent
and abusers of alcohol then those who begin drinking at 21.
behavior problems, a strong need for new experiences or a family history
with alcohol problems are more likely to use alcohol.
Alcohol use is
connected with poor grades, absenteeism and higher school drop-out
serve as role models for our youth. It is important to educate them on
the dangers of underage drinking. What can we, as a community, do to
prevent underage drinking? Here are a few suggestions of places to
Consider that alcohol does not have to be served at every social
occasion that your family hosts.
about how much alcohol may be in your own home and limit this.
need to hear the message that underage drinking is not okay. This
message should come from home, school, places of worship, on the
sports field, in youth and afterschool activities, and in other
places that young people gather.
Talk with your children
about the topic of underage drinking, share your concerns; look up
information on the web to increase your awareness and
knowledge of this topic.
Remember that it is better to begin these conversations early when
possible. Youth benefit greatly by hearing a prevention message early.
They should know where you stand as parents long before they are
starting to think about drinking.
where your children are and who their friends are. A majority
of current alcohol users aged 12 to 20 drank at someone else’s home
the last time they used alcohol, and another 30% drank in their own