Best Strategies for Parents to Prevent Underage Drinking

underage drinking

Although teenage drinking has declined in recent years, underage drinking is still fairly commonplace in America today. A 2016 Monitoring the Future survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found the following high school drinking statistics: roughly 17% of eighth graders, 38% of tenth-graders, and 56% of twelfth graders consumed alcohol in the past year. While these numbers are lower than in past years, they are still high considering that alcohol consumption is illegal for all of these age groups. Such high levels can be attributed to easy access to alcohol; since it is legal for adults over the age of 21, minors with an older friend or inattentive parents can usually find alcohol if they want to.  Some parents even accept underage drinking as a right-of-passage and do not mind or worry about it. Some parents even go so far as to purchase alcohol for their teens, hoping that if they drink at home, with some level of adult supervision, they will be safer. However, teens are typically not responsible enough to handle the effects of alcohol, leading to tragic consequences.

The Dangers of Underage Drinking

Underage drinking is a problem because teens lack the maturity to drink responsibly. Physically, their young bodies cannot handle the alcohol, and they become intoxicated quickly. Mentally, teens are not mature enough to make good decisions concerning alcohol. With poor self-monitoring skills, they may quickly drink too much and make impulsive, irresponsible decisions about whether or not to drive, have sex, or engage in reckless behavior such as swimming, diving, or daring each other to complete outlandish stunts. These types of behaviors can lead to injury and death. In addition, underage drinking increases the chances of abusing alcohol as an adult. According to the following teenage drinking death statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive drinking leads to more than 4,300 deaths of underage youth each year, including:

  • 1,580 motor vehicle deaths
  • 1,269 homicides
  • 245 poisoning, burns, falls, or drownings
  • 492 suicides

The consequences of underage drinking are not always deadly but are still quite severe. According to the CDC, teens who drink are more likely to experience:

  • Problems in school, such as frequent absences or poor grades
  • Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in activities
  • Poor health, such as hangovers, illness, and disruption of normal growth
  • Higher risk of physical and sexual assault
  • Memory problems
  • Other substance abuse
  • Changes in brain development that may be lifelong
  • Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity

How to Prevent Underage Drinking

The most important step in preventing teenage alcohol-related deaths is parental involvement, followed by community support, including the schools, extracurricular groups and activities, and governmental policies. Parents can help their teens by:

  • Establishing solid lines of communication with their children
  • Listening and making their teens feel comfortable
  • Providing consistent discipline and clear expectations
  • Monitoring the teen’s friendships and activities
  • Strengthening family bonds

Schools can help by:

  • Providing developmentally appropriate information about drugs and alcohol
  • Teaching skills to resist peer pressure

Extracurricular programs, which may or may not be affiliated with the school, can:

  • Provide positive adult role models
  • Provide supervised activities
  • Provide opportunities for teen leadership

Policies made by the community and the government can impact teen drinking by:

  • Maintaining a minimum drinking age of 21
  • Imposing excise taxes on alcohol
  • Limiting availability of alcohol to minors

Strong parental involvement goes a long way toward preventing underage drinking. If you are a parent concerned about your teen’s drinking habits, we can help. Call our toll free number today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *