Get Informed - Teen Drinking

Underage Drinking-For Parents

It’s no secret that society gives children mixed messages about alcohol. Kids are exposed to media exposure as well as real life events in which adults over the age of 21 are drinking. Alcohol is portrayed as something that allows people to “loosen up” and “have fun.” This double standard is difficult for teens to understand and should be discussed with the adolescents in your home. Teens need to know that while alcohol can be used responsibly in persons older than 21 and when used in minimal quantities, it is especially dangerous to teens. Since the teenage brain is still growing and developing, it is more easily damaged by large amounts of alcohol. Thus, binge drinking (defined as 3 or more drinks in a row) can be the perfect way to destroy developing brain cells.


Further, the top three causes of death among persons 15 to 24 years of age are accidents, homicide, and suicide, each of which involves alcohol 20 to 40 percent of the time. (1) In spite of these statistics, alcohol advertising continues to target young people. In fact, underage persons are exposed to 45 percent more beer ads and 27 percent more liquor ads than adults.(2) Other risky behaviors associated with alcohol use include increased sexual activity, increased illicit drug use, more likely to be in a fight after drinking, academic problems, such as lower grades, absenteeism and high dropout rates, and increased traffic accidents.


As you consider ways to start conversations with your teens about alcoholism and resisting peer pressure, consider viewing teen websites such as www.thecoolspot.gov.

Get Informed - Teen Drinking

Tips to Help Teens Abstain

Some Tips for Parents to encourage their children to abstain from alcohol:


  • Spend time together regularly.
  • Listen and talk with your children. Try to understand the pressures placed on them and don’t criticize their beliefs.
  • Keep track of where your children are, what they are doing, and who their friends are.
  • Get them involved in after-school activities so they won’t be able to just “hang out” with friends in the afternoon. This is when children are most likely to experiment.
  • Praise or reward children often. If they feel good about themselves, they will be more confident and better able to resist peer pressure.
  • Be a positive role model for your children. Don’t abuse alcohol or drugs.


For more information


For information about talking with your teen about alcohol, tips for your teen to handle peer pressure, and warning signs of a drinking problem, please refer to The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s pamphlet:


Make A Difference: Talk to Your Child About Alcohol – Parents Booklet.




  1. Smith GS, Branas CC, Miller TR. Fatal nontraffic injuries involving alcohol: a meta-analysis. Ann Emerg Med. 1999;33:659-68.
  2. Georgetown University, Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth. Overexposed: youth a target of alcohol advertising in magazines. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2002.

Information Last updated January 2019

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