Substance Abuse Prevention
|Alcohol use by persons under age 21 years is a major
public health problem. Alcohol is the most commonly used
and abused drug among youth in the United States, more
than tobacco and illicit drugs. Although drinking by persons
under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years
drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.
More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of
binge drinks. On average, underage drinkers consume
more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers.
Consequences of Underage Drinking
Youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience
- Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.
- Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while
- Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.
- Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.
- Disruption of normal growth and sexual development.
- Physical and sexual assault.
- Higher risk for suicide and homicide.
- Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns,
falls, and drowning.
- Memory problems.
- Abuse of other drugs.
- Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.
- Death from alcohol poisoning.
Talking to kids about alcohol
As much as parents may not like to think about it, the
truth is that many kids and teens try alcohol during
their high school and college years, long before it's
legal for them to drink it. Long before your kids are
presented with a chance to drink alcohol, you can
increase the chances that they'll just say "no." It's
important to encourage kids to ask questions, even
ones that might be hard to answer. Open, honest,
age-appropriate communication now sets the stage for
your kids to come to you later with other difficult topics
kids from using and abusing alcohol:
- Be a good role model. Consider how your use of
alcohol or medications may influence your kids.
Consider offering only nonalcoholic beverages at
parties and other social events to show your kids
that you don't need to drink to have fun.
- Educate yourself about alcohol so you can be a
better teacher. Read and collect information that
you can share with kids and other parents.
- Try to be conscious of how you can help build your
child's self-esteem. For example, kids are more
likely to feel good about themselves if you
emphasize their strengths and positively reinforce
- Teach kids to manage stress in healthy ways, such
as by seeking help from a trusted adult or engaging
in a favorite activity.
|Who can help?
Need someone to facilitate a
meeting at your school or
business? Please call, John
Sommo, Health Education
and Prevention Specialist for
KCCHC. He can help give
support and information to
you or your group about
underage drinking. Please
call the KCCHC at 236-6313
or e-mail John at
For more information on underage drinking, please visit the following websites:
|KNOX COUNTY COMMUNITY HEALTH COALITION
Penobscot Bay YMCA, Coalition Partner