Alcohol is the leading drug problem among young people and each day approximately 8,000 youth across the nation will take their first drink.
Underage drinking is strongly linked to delinquent behaviors, including stealing, illicit drug use and problems at home and at school. Underage drinking also plays a significant role in increased sexual behavior, including unwanted, unintended and unprotected sexual activity, sex with multiple partners and teenage pregnancy.
Youth who begin drinking before 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse alcohol later in life, than those who begin drinking at or after age 21. Additionally, heavy alcohol use by adolescents has long-term effects on brain development. These health and safety risks have real consequences that most parents try to protect their children from. Yet 31 percent of youth report obtaining alcohol from their parents while another 27 percent say they got it from other adults.
The Hernando County Community Anti-Drug Coalition, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office and Springstead High School are partnering to encourage parents, educators, businesses, community organizations and others to learn more about the health, safety and legal risks of allowing underage drinking. Through the Parents Who Host, Lose The Most: Don't be a Party to Teenage Drinking Campaign, the partners seek to address the various factors that contribute to underage drinking, including community norms, access and availability, media messages and policy and enforcement.
This program has a proven track record of success and we are excited to roll it out in our county. It carries a universal message: It is illegal, unsafe and unhealthy for anyone under 21 to drink alcohol and there are significant risks for adults who provide alcohol to minors.
Parents Who Host, Lose The Most: Don't be a Party to Teenage Drinking campaign is a registered trademark of Drug Free Action Alliance, and is working in partnership with Florida's Hernando County Community Anti-Drug Coalition.
More information is available at www.hernandoantidrug.org.
Tresa J. Watson is the executive director of the Hernando County Community Anti-Drug Coalition. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.