STATISTICS ON UNDERAGE DRINKING: Youths in the United States use and abuse alcohol more than any other drug, including tobacco. Despite the law prohibiting the consumption of alcohol by individuals not yet 21 years of age, people between the ages of 12 to 20 consume 11% of all the alcohol consumed in the United States. Even more disconcerting is that 90% of the alcohol consumed by 12 to 20 year olds will be in the form of binge drinking and underage drinkers tend to consume more drinks on one occasion then most adult drinkers. (Source: www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets)
EFFECTS OF UNDERAGE DRINKING: Beginning to drink before learning and understanding how to do so responsibly can create dire consequences for those underage drinkers. Youths who drink alcohol are more likely to experience problems at home and at school, as well as physical and social issues. They are at a higher risk to have unplanned and unprotected sexual encounters, and there is also a higher risk of physical and sexual assault. Drinking underage also makes youths more likely to experience legal problems such as being arrested for DUI or possession of alcohol by a minor. The most severe consequence is that these youths could possibly kill themselves or others in an accident, car crash, or from alcohol poisoning. (Source: www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets)
MORE TIPS FOR PREVENTION: There are many things parents and educators can do to help prevent youths from drinking.
- Discourage violation of alcohol rules by consistently enforcing them.
- Provide and promote multiple venues where adolescents can get together with their friends.
- Provide them with the developmentally appropriate knowledge, skills, and motivation to resist peer and other pressures to drink.
- Recognize and identify when a youth has a problem with alcohol use and assist them in finding professional or medical help.
- Make a special effort to be a mentor and confidant to your children/students; especially when they are going through times of stress from social transitions and increasing responsibility.