Underage drinking is a serious problem in the U.S., and yet it is a topic that is often avoided in families. It may be that parents feel that no matter what they say, their children will choose to drink. It might be that many parents believe that their child is rarely, if ever, given the opportunity to drink. A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) effectively disproves many of these ideas while a new campaign offers parents tools to fight against underage drinking.
The SAMHSA Report
According to the report, youth 12 to 20 years old who were cared for by hospital emergency room personnel faced greater than twice the likelihood of a serious health consequence if they had been drinking and using drugs before the visit compared to youth who abstained. Serious health consequences included being hospitalized, needing to be transferred to another health facility and sometimes death.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that in 2010 there were 189,000 visits to hospital emergency rooms made by underage youth who had been drinking alcohol. According to the CDC, youth ages 12 to 20 consume 11 percent of all alcohol sold.
SAMHA estimates that 9.3 million kids will drink before they turn 21; and many will begin experimenting with alcohol as early as age nine.
Helping Parents Talk To Their Kids About Drinking And Drugs
In an effort to reduce underage drinking, SAMHSA this year launched “Talk, They Hear You,” a public service campaign that emphasizes the importance of parents initiating conversations with their kids about the risks of underage drinking.
In addition to public service announcements, the campaign features online interactive tools, such as “Start the Talk,” which gives parents an opportunity to listen in on an imagined conversation and then allows them to practice what they might say to their own kids. Research shows that even though parents often think that their kids aren’t interested in what the parent has to say, in fact, kid do care what their parents think and do listen when parents talk.
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