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Lock Your Liquor: Teen Drinking

Did you know that approximately one out of every ten alcoholic drinks in the U.S is consumed illegally? In fact, more than 70 percent of young adults reported consuming at least one alcoholic beverage before they turned 21.

Young adults may see teenage drinking on social media, portrayed on their favorite TV show, or see their parents drinking responsibly and not fully understand the risks associated with consuming alcohol. But unfortunately, the costs of teen drinking can have a lasting impact on their future. Underage drinking can lead to numerous physical, mental, and social issues. Because children and teens are still maturing, even one alcoholic drink can stunt or prevent crucial development within the brain and body.

Here are just a few ways underage
drinking can affect your teen:

  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Poor judgement and coordination skills, resulting in accidents and injuries
  • Long-term negative impacts on brain development and mental health
  • Increases the risk of physical and sexual assault
  • Liver damage
  • Increased illicit drug use

The truth is that most adolescents can obtain alcohol from a convenient source: their own homes. Two out of three teens say it is easy to get alcohol from their homes without their parents knowing about it. Think about your house, do your children have easy access to alcohol? If a beer or bottle of liquor went missing, would you notice?

If teenage drinking is occurring on your property regardless if you are aware, you can be held responsible. Under the Social Hosting law, adults who knowingly or unknowingly host underage drinking on their property can face severe consequences. Adults who are found guilty could face repercussions such as fines up to $1,000 if convicted or in some cases, imprisonment up to six months.

How can we prevent our teens from making the wrong decision and ending up in a dangerous situation? The most effective way to discourage your teens from drinking is clear and open communication. Explaining the risks of teenage drinking in a concise manner and allowing your teens to ask questions has been found to significantly reduce teenage drinking. Keep your kids accountable, aware of your expectations, and conscious of the risks that teen drinking can have for the entire family.

You should also take extra precautions for the beer and liquor in your home to prevent the temptation of underage drinking. Unmonitored alcohol, including alcohol stored in a cabinet, basement, or garage, should be locked up or difficult to reach. Keep an eye on inventory levels to make sure no bottles are unaccounted for. Whether you lock up your alcohol or simply check to make sure it is not “mysteriously” disappearing, parents hold the key to preventing underage drinking.

The Newport County Prevention Coalition is an organization dedicated to improving the mental and physical well-being of all citizens in Newport County. This year marks the end of the first year of the “Partnership for Success” grant, focused on reducing teenage drinking in our area. If you are interested in getting involved or would like more information on our programs please contact the Partnership for Success Coordinator, Scott McGovney