of teens in our area have their first drink at home.





It’s your life. You’ve got a lot riding on your future, your friends and your family. The facts are simple - you drink underage, you hurt your odds of achieving your dreams. The studies all point to the same bottom line - you booze, you lose.

Real Facts about Underage Drinking

You probably see and hear a lot about alcohol—from TV, movies, music, and your friends. But what are the real facts about underage alcohol use?

Myth: Alcohol isn't as harmful as other drugs.

FACT Alcohol increases your risk for many deadly diseases, such as cancer. Drinking too much alcohol too quickly can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can kill you.

Myth: Drinking is a good way to loosen up at parties.

FACT Drinking is a dumb way to loosen up. It can make you act silly, say things you shouldn't say, and do things you wouldn't normally do (like get into fights).

Myth: Drinking alcohol will make me cool.

FACT There's nothing cool about stumbling around, passing out, or puking on yourself. Drinking alcohol also can cause bad breath and weight gain.

Myth: All of the other kids drink alcohol. I need to drink to fit in.

FACT If you really want to fit in, stay sober. Most young people don't drink alcohol. Research shows that more than 70 percent of youth age 12 to 20 haven't had a drink in the past month.1

Myth: I can sober up quickly by taking a cold shower or drinking coffee.

FACT On average, it takes 2 to 3 hours for a single drink to leave the body. Nothing can speed up the process, not even drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or "walking it off."

Myth: Adults drink, so kids should be able to drink too.

FACT A young person's brain and body are still growing. Drinking alcohol can cause learning problems or lead to adult alcoholism. People who begin drinking by age 15 are five times more likely to abuse or become dependent on alcohol than those who begin drinking after age 20.2

Myth: Beer and wine are safer than liquor.

FACT Alcohol is alcohol. It can cause you problems no matter how you consume it. One 12-ounce bottle of beer or a 5-ounce glass of wine (about a half cup) has as much alcohol as a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. Alcopops—sweet drinks laced with malt liquor—often contain more alcohol than beer!

Myth: I can drink alcohol and not have any problems.

FACT If you're under 21, drinking alcohol is a big problem: It's illegal. If caught, you may have to pay a fine, perform community service, or take alcohol awareness classes. Kids who drink also are more likely to get poor grades in school and are at higher risk for being a crime victim.

1 Office of Applied Studies (2008). Results from the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National findings. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
2 Office of Applied Studies (2004). Alcohol dependence or abuse and age at first use. The NSDUH Report.

Too Smart To Start website

Why Is Underage Drinking Dangerous?

Underage drinking is a major cause of death from injuries among young people. Each year, approximately 5,000 people under age 21 die as a result of underage drinking. This includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes; 1,600 as a result of homicides; 300 from suicide; and hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns, and drownings.1

It can harm the growing brain. Today we know that the brain continues to develop from birth through the adolescent years and into the mid 20s.           

It can affect the body in many ways. The effects of alcohol range from hangovers to death from alcohol poisoning.

It can lead to other problems. These may include bad grades in school, run-ins with the law, and drug use.

It affects how well a young person judges risk and makes sound decisions. For example, after drinking, a teen may see nothing wrong with driving a car or riding with a driver who has been drinking. But, before drinking, the teen might realize the riskiness involved.

It plays a role in risky sexual activity. People do things when they are under the influence of alcohol—even a small amount—that they would not do when they are sober, including having sex even when they didn't want to and had not planned to do so. This behavior can increase the chance of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

1, 2, 4 Office of the Surgeon General. (2007). The Surgeon General's Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking: A Guide to Action for Families (PDF 900KB) p. 10. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Underage Drinking Has Serious Consequences

Children who drink alcohol are more likely to:

Use Drugs

Frequent binge drinkers (nearly 1 million high school students nationwide) are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, including using other drugs such as marijuana and cocaine.

Get bad grades

Children who use alcohol have higher rates of academic problems and poor school performance compared with nondrinkers.

Suffer injury or death

In 2009, an estimated 1,844 homicides; 949,400 nonfatal violent crimes such as rape, robbery, and assault; and 1,811,300 property crimes, including burglary, larceny, and car theft were attributed to underage drinking.

Engage in risky sexual activity

Young people who use alcohol are more likely to be sexually active at earlier ages, to have sexual intercourse more often, and to have unprotected sex

Make bad decisions

Drinking lowers inhibitions and increases the chances that children will engage in risky behavior or do something that they will regret when they are sober.

Have health problems

Young people who drink are more likely to have health issues such as depression and anxiety disorders.


For Parents

Informed Families' Safe Homes Campaign

Families have the power to create change if we all work together and speak with one voice against binge drinking, underage drinking and out of control parties.
When Your Teen Is Giving A Party
  • Plan in advance. Check party plans with your teenager and know who the guests will be. If you agree on who is to be invited you can curb the "open party" situation. Set definite limits.
  • Agree to the rules ahead of time. The rules should include:
  • No drugs, including alcohol or tobacco.
  • No leaving the party and returning.
  • No gate crashers.
  • Some rooms in your home are off limits.
  • Know your responsibilities. The responsible adult at a teenager's party must be visible and aware. Remember it is illegal to serve/provide drugs, including beer, wine, wine coolers, etc. to anyone under 21 years of age. You may be liable both to criminal charges and for monetary damages in a civil lawsuit if you furnish alcohol and other drugs to a minor.
  • Anyone who leaves the party should not be allowed to return. This discourages people from leaving with the intent of drinking or using drugs in their cars or elsewhere and then returning to the party.
  • Welcome calls from other parents to discuss the party arrangements.
  • Notify your neighbors beforehand that a party is being given and will be supervised.
  • Notify the police when giving a large party. Discuss with them an agreeable parking plan. Let police know whom to contact in case of complaints.
  • Plan to have food and plenty of non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Plan some activities ahead of time, such as movies, dancing, sports, etc.
  • Discuss the party afterwards with your teenager and share your observations and possible frustrations
When Your Teen Is Attending A Party
  • Know where your teenager will be. Obtain an address and phone number. Agree that he or she will call you if the location is changed.
  • Personally contact the parents of the party giver to:
  • Offer assistance and support.
  • Verify the occasion.
  • Make sure the parents will be present.
  • Be certain that alcohol, tobacco and other drugs will not be permitted.
  • Agree beforehand on a curfew.
  • Know how your teenager will get to and from the party. Arrange that you, a specified friend or neighbor can be called if he or she needs a ride home. Discuss the possible situations which might necessitate this. Reinforce that under no circumstances should your teenager allow someone who has been drinking or using other drugs to drive him/her anywhere.
  • Personally check with the parents if your child stays overnight with a friend after the party.
If your teenager attends a party where alcohol, tobacco and other drugs are served by the parents or allowed, it is important to:
  • Phone and discuss your disapproval with the parents.
  • Discuss the legal ramifications with them.
  • Share notes with other parents.
  • Express thanks and support to parents and students within these guidelines.
When You Are Out Of Town
  • Inform your teenager of their responsibilities and the consequences of their actions.
  • Have a responsible adult live in your home during your absence or have your teenager stay with a responsible adult. Explain to them your family policy and rules for parties.
  • Inform your neighbors of your absence. Request they contact you or a responsible adult, or even the police, if a party occurs. Cooperation is both essential and productive.
  • Let the parents of your child's friends know of your absence.
  • If a party is held, find out who attended and contact their parents as soon as possible.