Parents Need to Understand the Total Impact of Underage Drinking

clip_image002[2] (59 x 72)Alcohol use by persons under age 21 years is a major public health problem. According to Gary Pearce, Director for Talbot Partnership, “While many parents are most concerned with their teens drinking and driving, there are many other issues associated with underage alcohol consumption that parents need to be aware of as well.”

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), most people know about the dangers of underage drinking and driving, but what you may not know is that the dangers of underage drinking are even greater off the roadways. This means that parents, who talk with their kids about drunk driving, but not about waiting until 21 to drink at all, are missing an important step in keeping their kids safe.

An analysis of deaths related to underage alcohol use finds 68 percent are not traffic-related. The study, by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), found 32 percent of these deaths are traffic-related, 30 percent are homicides, 14 percent are suicides, 9 percent are alcohol poisonings and 15 percent are from other causes.

In addition, youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience school problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades, social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities, unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity, disruption of normal growth and sexual development, physical and sexual assault, other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning, and memory problems.

Youth who start drinking before age 15 years are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21 years.

“These data show that taking away the keys truly does not take away all of the risks when it comes to underage drinking,” MADD National President Jan Withers said in a news release. “MADD hopes this information will inspire parents to have ongoing conversations with their kids about the dangers of drinking alcohol before age 21, especially since we know that a majority of kids say their parents are the biggest influence on their decisions about alcohol.”

For additional information on what parents can do to help their children avoid the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, contact Talbot Partnership at 410-819-8067. Please also visit our website at or find us on Facebook.