The week of August 27, 2023, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released its “Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking 2022”. According to the report:
Alcohol is responsible for more than 3,900 deaths annually among Americans under 21 and shortens their lives by an average of 57 years.
Alcohol is the most widely used substance among U.S. youth aged 12-20.
The peak years of initiation of alcohol use are in grades 7-11 and 15.0 percent of high school students report using alcohol before the age of 13.
SAMHSA’s full report and state reports are available here. State reports highlight policies, enforcement, programs, collaborations, and expenditures to prevent and reduce underage drinking in each state and the District of Columbia.
Talking with Your Kids About Underage Drinking
One of the most influential factors during a child’s adolescence is maintaining a strong, open relationship with a parent especially when it comes to decisions about alcohol use. When parents create supportive and nurturing environments, children make better decisions. Though it may not always seem like it, children really hear their parents’ concerns, which is why it’s important that parents discuss the risks of using alcohol and other drugs.
Some things to consider when making the decision of when to talk about underage alcohol use:
It’s Better to Talk Before Children Are Exposed to Alcohol and Other Drugs
If you talk to your kids directly and honestly, they are more likely to respect your rules and advice about alcohol and drug use.
Some Children May Try Alcohol or Other Drugs at a Very Young Age
It is never too early to talk to your children about alcohol and other drugs. Children as young as nine years old already start viewing alcohol in a more positive way, and approximately 3,300 kids as young as 12 try marijuana each day.
The Older Kids Get, the More Likely They’ll Try Alcohol or Other Drugs
About 10 percent of 12-year-olds say they have tried alcohol, but by age 15, that number jumps to 50 percent.
Not Talking About Alcohol and Other Drugs Still Sends Kids a Message
Kids don’t always have all the facts when it comes to alcohol and other drugs. If parents don’t talk about the risks of underage drinking and substance use, their kids might not see any harm in trying alcohol and other substances.
Learn more about why it’s important to talk with kids about alcohol use: https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/talk-with-your-child-about-alcohol-drugs.pdf
Tips for Talking with Your Kids About Underage Drinking
MADD Talking About Alcohol Guide- Parents: https://online.flippingbook.com/view/859421/
MADD Making Good Choices Guide- Parents: https://online.flippingbook.com/view/874764/
Talk It Out NC Conversation Starter Guide: https://b9x7q6e8.stackpathcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Conversation-Starters.pdf
SAMHSA 5 Conversation Goals- Parents: https://www.samhsa.gov/talk-they-hear-you/parent-resources/five-conversation-goals