April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Preventing Underage Drinking is the Responsibility of All Adults

Alcohol Awareness MonthAlcohol is the most abused substance by American youth and more likely to be the cause of young people’s death over all other illegal drugs combined. Each April, Alcohol Awareness Month is sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD), and this year’s focus is on underage drinking.

“Underage drinking is a complex issue, one that can only be solved through a sustained and cooperative effort,” says NCADD President and CEO Andrew Pucher. “As a nation, we need to wake up to the reality that for some, alcoholism and addiction develop at a young age and that intervention, treatment, and recovery support are essential for them and their families.”

Access is usually what determines which substance takes center stage, according to Katharine Sadler, author of What Adults Need to Know about Kids and Substance Use: Dealing with Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs.

Alcohol and cigarettes—known as “gateway drugs”—are often the substances that adolescents use first because of their easy availability. Adults need to make sure that they don’t become the suppliers of these substances because easy access to alcohol may send the message to young people that drinking is less serious than using drugs.

Underage Drinking Risks

The serious risks associated with underage drinking are numerous: drunk driving, physical injuries, memory loss, fighting or arguing, property damage, pregnancy, sexually-transmitted diseases, and missed school.

Some parents believe they can manage these risks by hosting parties that serve alcohol for young people, but Sadler cautions against this. “Parents who host parties that furnish alcohol can firmly believe they are doing the right thing and being good parents,” notes Sadler. “They reason that teens will drink anyway, and by hosting a party they will keep them safely under supervision.”

Parents may reason that they can take away car keys and provide sleeping arrangements or rides for those who consume alcohol, but Sadler says these adults are communicating that it’s okay to break the law and alcohol is necessary for social functions. Providing alcohol for teens also removes a strong inhibitor to young people who would otherwise refrain from drinking because they fear parental disapproval.

What Adults Need to Know about Kids and Substance UseAdults who provide alcohol to minors also need to remember that other parents will strongly object to their child drinking in someone else’s home. What’s more, some states and cities now have laws against serving alcohol to underage children in one’s home.


What Adults Need to Know about Kids and Substance Use
provides a practical overview of the substances that kids are most likely to abuse and what actions adults can take to intervene.

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Publish Date: 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

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