Grappling With Underage Drinking Spike

The Cobb Alcohol Taskforce mobilizes and challenges adults to reduce underage drinking by advancing strategic enforcement, policy and education goals.

Serving a young person or adults too many cups of "holiday cheer" can turn out to be costly for you, for them and for us all.

The Cobb Alcohol Taskforce offers the following reminders and cautions everyone to be mindful of opportunities for lowering alcohol-related incidents this holiday season.

Last year the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Drug Abuse Warning Network reported four times the number of emergency room visits involving underage drinking on New Year's Day than on an  average day during the Memorial or Fourth of July holidays.

The report cited "greater access to alcohol, less parental oversight and mixed messages from parents" as influencing this uptick in underage drinking and increased emergency room visits. 

Recently several studies conducted with teens from Australia, France and the U.S. found teens that drank with adults, regardless of country, were more likely to drink in all situations and more inclined to experience harmful alcohol related consequences. Such studies expose the adult belief and practice of “teaching kids to drink responsibly” for the myth it is.

Last year the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported, two to three times more people died in alcohol-related vehicle crashes over the winter holidays compared to periods during the rest of the year. Although traffic fatalities involving an alcohol-impaired driver averaged 28 percent in December, they rose sharply to 40 percent over the holiday period. 

Everyone can help reduce underage and excessive drinking this holiday season. This will help provide for safe holidays for all and limit anticipated holiday spikes in local healthcare and public safety services.

If you're hosting a holiday party, support moderate drinking guidelines for adult drinkers, offer non-alcoholic beverage options and food to guests, and do not serve alcohol to minors.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, moderate drinking for adults is consuming no more than one standard drink per day for women and no more than two standard drinks per day for men. A standard drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.

There is no moderate drinking guideline for youth.

Cobb County area law enforcement agencies will be working to keep the public safe this holiday weekend, but they need citizens to observe and report in order to enforce alcohol laws, which is effective at preventing crimes and injuries.

If you attend a holiday party that does not practice the safe party guidelines listed above, speak up and speak out. Call 911 to report  underage drinking and/or excessive drinking before it turns into an emergency room visit or traffic fatality.

Reports can be anonymous and may save a life!

To learn more about the Cobb Alcohol Taskforce, visit www.cobbat.org or call 770-861-5758.

Lisa Frederiksen January 01, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Three concepts that we at BreakingTheCycles.com find helpful to explore when having these kinds of discussions with children, teens and parents, are: 1) raising awareness about the 21st century brain research that explains why the teen brain is not the same as that of an adult's and therefore why the teen brain is affected differently by binge drinking (or drugs) than the brain of an adult’s, 2) helping people understand how the body processes alcohol, which is why it has such an impact on the brain, 3) sharing research showing the Europeans do not have underage drinking figured out, either. With regards to #1, this article, “How Teens Become Alcoholics Before Age 21,” http://tiny.cc/pyesf, helps to explain this relatively new brain research and why alcohol is harmful to the teen brain in a way it is not necessarily harmful to the adult brain. With regards to #2, this article, “Why BAC Can Keep Rising After a Person Stops Drinking,” http://tiny.cc/u0o99 , helps explain alcohol’s impact on the brain and a person’s decision-making capabilities. With regards to #3, the U.S. Surgeon General’s 2007 Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking shares research findings (on page 9 of the Call) showing all but 1 of the 19 European countries surveyed having more students ages 15-16 than the U.S. who have engaged in binge drinking (5+drinks) within the past 30 days.


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