December 6, 2021

In It Together: April is Alcohol Awareness Month so Let’s STOP Teen Access to Alcohol

LYME/OLD LYME — April is Alcohol Awareness month and one way we can work to prevent teens from drinking is to prevent easy access to alcohol.

Teen drinking is not inevitable.

Nationally, more than 70 percent of high school seniors do not drink alcohol regularly. Unfortunately, according to 2019 data, 73 percent of 12th graders at Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) report that it is easy to get alcohol.

Most teens who drink obtain alcohol without having to pay for it. They get it from friends or family members, at parties, or by taking it without permission.

Underage drinkers who pay for alcohol usually give money to someone else to purchase it for them.   

Here are some steps you can take to reduce access to alcohol:

  1. Liquor stickers are available from LYSB and LOL Prevention Coalition.

    At home, make sure teens can’t access alcohol without your knowledge. Unmonitored alcohol, including alcohol stored in a cabinet, refrigerator, basement, or garage, can be a temptation. When in doubt, lock it up.

    This is also important for grandparents, family, and anyone else with youth in their homes. Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau and the Lyme/Old Lyme Prevention Coalition have “Liquor Stickers” available to help secure open bottles in the home.

  2. Exercise your influence. Data shows that teens continue to care what their parents think, even while they are in high school and college. Let your teen know that you don’t want them to drink and that most teens, in fact, don’t drink. Talk often and talk early.
  3. It may have happened already. A neighbor announces she is hosting a teen party, but you shouldn’t worry — she is taking the car keys from every kid who comes in. Or a colleague says he is serving alcohol to his high school son’s friends so they can “learn to drink responsibly.” Speak up, because silence can be misinterpreted.
  4. According to Connecticut’s Social Host Law not only is it illegal to provide alcohol to a person under 21, but as a host you are advised to actively prevent use by underage youth on your property.  Connecticut’s law on hosting reads that hosts “knew or should have known” that underage drinking was taking place. Monitoring during the course of the entire party is required.

  5. If you hear about a situation — speak up! Say that you don’t want other people serving alcohol to your teen or condoning teen drinking.  Let your friends, neighbors, and family members know that the minimum drinking age and Social Host Law are policies that protect teens, and that you don’t want your teen to drink.
  6. Take action before a situation arises. Start talking to the parents of your child’s friends early — as early as 6th grade. Talk together about the risks of teen drinking and share that you don’t want anyone to allow your teen to drink alcohol. Talk to adults who host teen parties. Let them know that the overwhelming majority of parents support the legal drinking age and agree that it is not okay to serve alcohol to someone else’s teen — and it is not okay to turn a blind eye to teen alcohol consumption.
  7. Let local law enforcement know that you encourage active policing of noisy teen parties that may signal alcohol use. Tell local alcohol retailers that you want them to check ID’s before selling alcohol. Limiting alcohol sales to legal purchasers is an important goal and well worth the time it takes.

For more information on how to help your teen make healthy choices surrounding drugs or alcohol, visit www.lysb.org or email Alli Behnke at abehnke@lysb.org 

(Sources:  Federal Trade Commission, MTF 2019,  LYSB Youth Survey 2019)

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