Adolescents and Alcohol

Did you know that more teens take their first drink of alcohol in June and July than any other months?  With the summer months upon us, we find it important to take a close look into adolescent alcohol use and how to talk to teens about options for being safe when found in a situation involving alcohol.

The pressure to drink alcohol is at its highest during the adolescent years. Teen alcohol use varies across states: 15% of high school students in Utah had a drink in the last 30 days, as compared to 44% in Louisiana.  Nationally, the average was 39% in 2011, and percentages were almost identical for boys (39%) and girls (38%).  Find out more about student reports of alcohol use nationally and in your state with the Office of Adolescent Health’s searchable map.

Binge drinking – or heavy consumption of alcohol in one sitting – is also a problem for adolescents, with 26% of high school students reporting binge drinking within the past month.  Teens who drink are also more likely to engage in risky behavior, sexual activity, have unprotected sex, have sex with a stranger, or be the victim of perpetrator of a sexual assault. One study found that 23% of students who reported having sexual intercourse during the past three months also reported drinking alcohol or using drugs before their last sexual intercourse experience.

Screening and brief interventions by healthcare providers can result in lasting reductions in drinking levels and alcohol-related problems.  Find out more strategies for healthcare providers by glancing at our website.  Question 11 on our RAAPS survey helps to start the conversation on adolescent alcohol use.

Talk with teens about their alcohol use and give them options for being safe when they find themselves in a situation involving alcohol:

  • – Bring your own non-alcohol drink to a party
  • – Carry around a cup filled with juice, soda or water
  • – Don’t accept drinks from others or leave your drink unattended
  • – If you are given a drink with alcohol, go to the bathroom and dump it in the sink
  • – Use an excuse to say no such as, I can’t, I have to get up early tomorrow to (work, study,…)”, “I already got in huge trouble once for drinking, I can’t do it again”, or “My parents would kill me!”

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