How Does Underage Drinking Affect You?

April is Alcohol Awareness Month 

This month the Coalition teamed up with students, Nevada County Public Health, and local businesses to increase public awareness and understanding about underage drinking. Nevada Union student and peer advocate Divakar Pandit’s senior project focused on preventing underage drinking and he presented the Board of Supervisors with a proclamation declaring April Alcohol Awareness Month in Nevada County. Read Tuesday’s front page Union article. 

 There is no reason to accept youth alcohol use as a norm. In fact, the California Healthy Kids Survey shows that 55% of Nevada County teens have never had a drink and 72% haven’t had a drink in the last 30 days. Are you surprised by that? There is often a gap between reality and perception. The truth is that most parents don’t allow their teens to drink and most young people are making healthy choices. We as a community can empower adults and young people to continue making healthy choices by challenging the notion that “everyone drinks” or that “it’s safer if they drink at home”.

Despite the fact that many young people choose not to drink, when they do, there are serious consequence both to themselves and to society, including motor vehicle crashes, alcohol poisoning, violence, and addiction. Many times, teenagers will experiment with alcohol right in your own refrigerator or wine rack. If you choose to have unsupervised alcohol in your home, be prepared for the potential consequences. Underage drinking is too often overlooked or goes unchecked by adults, parents or caregivers because of the excuse that “teenagers are just being teenagers.” Unfortunately, this thinking may lead to teenagers abusing alcohol at a much earlier age, and some are using alcohol to self-medicate because of stress or depression.

Teenagers who experiment with alcohol before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol dependent when they become adults, in comparison to those who wait until the age of 20 to consume alcohol.

 So what can we do?    

Planting the Seeds: 

From tiny acorns mighty oak trees grow…  When teenagers know what the family rules are (planting the seeds), they are less likely to abuse alcohol.  Parents and adults should talk early and often to kids about why it’s important to not drink alcohol. Between the ages of 9 and 13, children start to think differently about alcohol. Many children begin to think underage drinking is OK and some even start to experiment. It’s never too early to talk to your children about alcohol, and encourage them to talk with you.  Take the Pledge: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/R9JSD96

Over 70% of children say parents are the leading influence in their decision to drink or not. Website with tips and resources: http://underagedrinking.samhsa.gov.