May 17, 2022

It’s Prom/Summer Party Season! Let’s Work Together to Stop Teen Access to Alcohol

LYME/OLD LYME — With Prom and summer just around the corner, it’s a great time to focus awareness in Lyme and Old Lyme on underage drinking. Remember alcohol continues to be the number one substance used by youth. 

One way we can work to prevent teens from drinking is to prevent easy access to alcohol and recognizing that teen drinking is not inevitable.

The Lyme-Old Lyme 2021 Youth Survey reports that 62 percent of high school seniors do not drink alcohol regularly.

Unfortunately, 70 percent of 12th graders report that it is easy to get alcohol. Most teens who drink get alcohol without having to pay for it. They obtain it from friends (83 percent) or family members, at parties, or by taking it without permission.  

The 2021 Youth Survey shows that nearly 50 percent of students, who report drinking, take it from their parents with and without permission. Underage drinkers, who pay for alcohol, usually give money to someone else to purchase it for them.

Here’s what you can do to reduce access to alcohol:

  • 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.
  • Liquor stickers can be a helpful tool and are available at Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau.
  • Exercise your influence. Data shows that teens continue to care what their parents think, even while they are in high school and college – 63 percent of students choose not to drink because they feel their parents would disapprove. Let your teen know that you don’t want them to drink and that most teens, in fact, don’t drink.

  • Speak up, because silence can be misinterpreted. It may have happened already. A neighbor announces she is hosting a teen party, but you shouldn’t worry — she’s taking the car keys from every kid who comes in. Or a colleague says he’s serving alcohol to his high school son’s friends so they can “learn to drink responsibly.”
  • If you hear about a situation, 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 is a policy that protects teens, and that you don’t want your teen to drink.
  • Take action before a situation arises. Start talking to the parents of your child’s friends early — as early as 6th grade. Tell them about the risks of teen drinking and let them know 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 not okay to turn a blind eye to teen alcohol consumption.
  • 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.
  • Consider joining the Lyme-Old Lyme Prevention Coalition.

For more information on how to help your teen make healthy choices surrounding drugs or alcohol, visit www.lysb.org/prevention or contact Alli Behnke, Prevention Coordinator, abehnke@lysb.org

Alli Behnke

About the Author: Alli Behnke, MSW, MA is the Prevention Coordinator at Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau. She has been a Social Worker for 20 years working in the fields of prevention, therapy, youth leadership, and health coaching. Alli believes strongly in providing accurate information, education, and tools for success when empowering the Lyme/Old Lyme Prevention Coalition and REACH Youth Coalition to work together on strengths-based campaigns. The Coalitions address substance abuse and other risky behaviors challenging our youth and families. Contact her at abehnke@lysb.org or visit  www.lysb.org to become involved in this important community work.

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