Start the Talk about Underage Drinking

? July 29, 2014 / ? SAMHSA / ? Alcohol, Children, Community, Community and Recovery Support, ONDCP, Prevention, Substance Use

By: Frances M. Harding, Director, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and David Mineta, Deputy Director of Demand Reduction, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy

Lemonade by the pool, the smell of fresh cut grass, relaxing with friends and family. Summer means all these things, but, unfortunately, it can also mean a time of increased risk for youth. In June and July, the average first use of alcohol by young people in the United States peaks.1 Every day in the month of July, an average 11,600 young people take their first drink.

SAMHSA and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) are working together this month to make parents and caregivers aware of these summertime risks. To encourage parents and caregivers to talk with their children about alcohol and give them the tools they need to have this conversation, SAMHSA launched “Talk. They Hear You.” This national public awareness campaign emphasizes earthat:
•Drinking puts youth at risk for problems now and in the future,
•Parents have a significant influence on young people’s decisions about alcohol use, and
•By not talking about risks of underage drinking, parents unintentionally send a message that alcohol use is okay.

SAMHSA, ONDCP, and other federal and national “Talk. They Hear You.” partners urge parents and caregivers to talk with children as young as 9 years old about alcohol. The Campaign features an evidence-based, online tool that gives adults practice in having direct, honest, and effective conversations with young people.

Summertime activities, like cookouts, ballgames, and working in the yard, bring parents and children together and provide natural opportunities to talk about underage drinking. Then, when a child asks to go to a summer pool party or a sleepover, parents and caregivers have already expressed their disapproval and given their child the skills he/she needs to avoid underage drinking.

Visit SAMHSA’s “Talk. They Hear You.” webpage for more tips and information about starting the conversation about alcohol.

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