A recent survey of Oregon High School students showed that 44% of our youth have tried alcohol before the age of 18 and 25% are drinking alcohol on a regular basis.
Current research shows that teen brains are ‘under construction’ and use of addictive substances like alcohol, nicotine and opiates lead to permanent changes in their brains. Teens who use alcohol before the age of 15 are as much as 6 times more likely to have future addiction issues.
Surveys and focus groups tell us that teens in our community are getting alcohol from their own homes or the homes of their friends, often with the consent of a parent.
Underage drinking is also a leading cause of car crashes, homicides, suicides, alcohol poisoning and other injuries among people under the age of 21. Nationwide, more than 119,000 patients under the age of 21 visited an emergency room for alcohol related injuries in 2013.. Teens who drink are at higher risk for physical and sexual assault, too.
You can help!
Talk with kids often and early about alcohol use. Kids tell us that the biggest influence on their decision to drink or not is their parents.
Be a good role model. Keep your own drinking at a moderate level. Don’t use alcohol as a way to cope with a tough day. Don’t ask your kids to get a beer from the refrigerator or ‘bartend’ for you. Help kids understand that more drinking does not mean more fun.
Help your kids understand that alcohol marketing with colorful mascots and sweet flavors are directed at getting youth consumers, not adults. If you’re watching TV or at a public event, talk about the advertising you see around you.