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Underage Drinkers Getting Alcohol From Adults

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, June 26, 2008 11:58 AM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Teenagers, Alcohol Consumption, Dangerous Products, Auto Accidents

For the most part, underage drinkers are getting alcohol from adults.



IMAGE SOURCE: ©iStockPhoto/ teenage drinking/author: Maica


Mom and Dad are often the source of alcohol for the nation’s underage drinkers, according to a new study.

The nationwide Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) survey of 10.8 million drinkers under the age of 18, covered the years 2002 to 2006.

It finds that half of teenagers under the age of 21 had engaged in underage drinking. 40 percent say they got the alcohol from an adult for free over the past month.

Surprisingly about one in four say they got the alcohol from an unrelated adult.  One in 16 were served alcohol from a parent or guardian. 

More frequently, one in 12 surveyed received the alcohol from another adult family member such as a brother, sister, cousin or aunt/uncle. Far less frequently, about four percent of the time, kids take alcohol from their own home.

"In far too many instances parents directly enable their children's underage drinking -- in essence encouraging them to risk their health and well-being," said acting Surgeon General Steven Galson.  Parental guidance is considered to be a critical part to solving early alcohol consumption.

About twenty percent of teens under the age of 20, report they’ve had alcohol in a “binge” drinking session, defined as five or more drinks at one time, over the past month.

The consequences can be drastic.

Alcohol and driving leads to thousands of alcohol-related traffic accidents, deaths and injuries every year.

Parents who serve alcohol to minors can be in trouble with the law too.

Two Deefield parents in the Chicago area were convicted of an underage drinking party that resulted in an auto accident that killed two teens.  Illinois now has a law is now on the books that can lead to felony charges for adults who let underage kids drink when an auto accident results. 

Often parents who binge drink have children who mirror that behavior.

The survey is based on 158,000 responses from people ages 12 to 20.

A parent from the Deerfield community, Vicki Ettelson, who tried to form a parents group to stop alcohol consumption, says part of the problem is the parents, they often just don’t agree.

"Some parents think it is a rite-of-passage, 'I lived through this,' sowing-your-wild-oats kind of thing," said Ettelson to the Chicago Tribune. "One parent's idea of supervision is definitely not another parent's idea of monitoring."

Many parents say they enable their child to drink because at the age of 18 they can consent to fight for the country, and they would rather have their kids drink at home than outside the home and then get into a vehicle.  A little more than half of the kids surveyed said they drank at another person’s home.

SAMHSA says talking to teens and using encouraging words, keeps open the lines of communication, vital for parents to convey to their kids their values on drinking.   #

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