Preventing Underage Drinking and Alcohol Abuse

Published on January 18th, 2016

The consumption of alcohol is a topic that generates a good deal of concern. According to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, more than 80 percent of American adults have consumed alcohol in their lifetime. This can become a problem when consumption is done in excess or without regard to safety, laws, responsibilities, or relationships. Underage drinking is another source of concern not only because it is illegal for children to consume alcohol but also because of the health concerns that are associated with drinking alcoholic beverages while the body is still developing. For these reasons, it’s crucial that people understand what they can do to help prevent underage drinking and reduce the risk of alcohol abuse in general for people of all ages.

Alcohol is very appealing to many children. Often, they see it as a chance to rebel or be cool or they are simply curious. According to the Surgeon General, 70 percent of teenagers have tried drinking by the time they turn 18 years old. In addition to the fact that alcohol negatively impacts the developing bodies of youth, it also causes children to engage in various forms of risky behavior. Schools and educators can help prevent alcohol abuse by instituting policies against drinking on school property and consistently enforcing these policies or rules. They can also educate students about the risks and the consequences of drinking. Schools may also address peer pressure and teach students how to combat it. Providing opportunities for students to get involved in school activities and programs is often effective.

For parents, communication is critical when it comes to preventing children from using alcohol. It’s important for parents to realize that children may first experiment with drinking before they officially become teenagers. For that reason, it’s necessary to talk to kids about alcohol, the dangers associated with drinking, and the law early on. By having open discussions about alcohol, parents establish trust and make themselves more approachable. Establishing trust through dialog makes it easier for teens to talk with their parents about problems or concerns that may lead them to drink. It is also important that parents make it clear that underage alcohol consumption is not acceptable in their family. A contract to not drink can be helpful for some; however, all families should set rules and consequences. Parents should also lead by example by showing kids that alcohol isn’t necessary to have fun. Leading by example also means drinking responsibly.

While underage drinking is a serious problem, it isn’t the only alcohol-related problem that people face. Alcohol abuse can be a problem for people of all ages, from young adults to seniors. When a person abuses alcohol, they may drink excessively, even to the detriment of relationships, missing work, or getting into legal trouble; however, this differs from alcoholism, as they do not need it to function or have a craving for it. Alcohol abuse is, however, the gateway to alcoholism, or alcohol dependence. A person can avoid abusing alcohol by avoiding situations in which peer pressure is a factor or by becoming more comfortable with telling others “no.” They can participate in fun activities that do not involve drinking, even if this means breaking away from destructive friendships or other relationships and developing new ones. When having problems, confront them or talk them out with someone who can give honest feedback and support.

The following links offer more information on preventing underage drinking and alcohol abuse:

  • The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking (PDF): The surgeon general explains the dangers of underage alcohol consumption in this community action guide. Readers will find an explanation of how alcohol harms young people’s brains as well as statistical facts.
  • What Families Can Do to Help Prevent Underage Alcohol Use: On this page, visitors will find tips on preventing alcohol consumption by minors. Risk factors and prevention tactics are covered here.
  • Five Tips to Prevent Underage Drinking (PDF): Vermont’s Department of Health offers advice on how to stop underage drinking in this help guide from MaineParents. The focus of this document is a set of five tips as well as a school and community checklist for parents.
  • Tools to Reduce Underage Drinking: The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids features a Mothers Against Drunk Driving article related to the prevention of underage drinking. Statistics on underage-drinking-related deaths as well as prevention tips are the subjects of discussion here.
  • Underage Drinking: Talking to Your Teen About Alcohol: Read about how to prevent underage drinking by visiting the Mayo Clinic’s tween and teen health section. Parent-teen interaction, explaining the hazards of drinking, and fighting peer pressure are some of the points that they bring up.
  • Underage Drinking Prevention Services: Visitors to the Westmoreland Community Action organization website can find advice on how to stop underage drinking. Information on how to host an alcohol-free party, rules to establish while parents are away from home, and teens attending a party away from home are covered here.
  • Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Strategies: By clicking this link, readers will find advice from eMedicineHealth regarding the prevention of teen alcohol and drug abuse.
  • Ten Tips for Prevention for Youth: Go here to read tips on preventing underage alcohol abuse, presented by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Visitors can also read about frequently asked questions by youths and college drinking.
  • Tips for Parents: What You Can Do: This link opens the Under Your Influence website. Here, interested readers will find how parents can defeat peer pressure and how to recognize the signs of underage drinking.
  • Know! To Prevent Underage Drinking: Read this advice page by the Drug Free Action Alliance about how to stop underage drinking. Frequently asked questions, related campaign materials, and teachable moments are some of the additional content that is available here.
  • How to Prevent Your Child From Drinking: On this page, learn about stopping underage drinking before it starts. Facts about the effectiveness of prevention strategies, peer pressure, and the dangers of drinking are some of the subjects that this article covers.
  • Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse: Villanova University provides information about how to diagnose and treat alcohol abuse and addiction on this Web page.
  • Is it Possible to Prevent Alcohol Use Disorder? The MedicineNet website discuses alcohol abuse and alcohol use disorder and how it can be prevented.
  • Medical Reference Guide: Alcoholism: This link opens the alcoholism page on the medical reference guide section of the University of Maryland Medical Center website. The page includes information on alcohol abuse and alcoholism.
  • Alcohol Abuse Facts and Prevention: Click this link to learn about alcohol abuse and how it can be prevented. This is a two-page informational article.
  • Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse: Read this page to learn information about alcoholism and alcohol abuse. The page includes a section that lists the signs of alcohol abuse as well as myths, effects, and more.
  • Education and Prevention of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse: The Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies gives visitors a definition of alcohol abuse and an estimate of how many drinks constitutes overuse. Alcoholism is also reviewed on this page.
  • Overview of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (PDF): This document outlines the causes and symptoms of alcohol abuse as well as alcoholism. Readers will also find information on treatments and support.
  • Healthy Living: Alcohol Abuse: On this page, read about alcohol abuse and the long- and short-term effects of alcohol abuse. Visitors to the site can also read about how to reduce their risk with responsible hosting and responsible drinking.
  • Alcohol Abuse Fact Sheet (PDF): Subjects covered here include how alcohol affects the body, alcohol abuse risk factors, treatment options, and more.
  • Alcohol Use, Abuse, and Dependency: Click this link to go to the University of Rochester’s Web page about the dangers of alcohol abuse and addiction. Potential health risks, the difference between use and abuse, and the problems associated with dependency are some of the points that this document discusses.
  • Alcohol Abuse: This article describes alcohol abuse and discusses the health risks that are involved. Visitors can also read advice about people who should not drink, such as pregnant women, and the potential dangers of alcohol’s interaction with medicines.
  • Teenage Alcohol and Drug Abuse (PDF): Go here to read a 12-page document about the dangers of teenage alcohol and drug abuse. Readers can find information about the types of alcohol available on the market for consumption, statistics involving alcohol abuse, and the dangers that are involved. Links to information sources are included on the last page.
  • Patients and Families: Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse: Dartmouth University provides visitors with a wealth of information about teen drug and alcohol abuse. Topics covered include the definition of underage substance abuse, the health risks involved, detecting signs of abuse, prevention, and more.
  • Parenting to Prevent Childhood Alcohol Use (PDF): Click this link to read about the use of alcohol by youth, genetics, parenting styles, and what parents can do to prevent kids from drinking.
  • Alcohol Use and Abuse: Visitors to Drexel’s Counseling and Health Services website will find in-depth information about the problem of alcohol abuse. The article talks about why it occurs, how to know if one has a drinking problem, health risks, how to get help, prevention, and how to intervene with a friend who abuses alcohol.
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