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Prevent Underage Drinking

How do your conversations about alcohol usually begin?

  • A discussion between you and your spouse about who will drive home after dinner with drinks?
  • A reminder to your teen as they head out the door?
  • A chat with your tween when they ask for a sip of your cocktail? 

Conversations about alcohol should start early and continue often. Even young children can understand the difference between right and wrong and appreciate the context that helps answer their “why” or “why not”? 

A key ingredient of every conversation should be “responsibility.”  That is why we inspire a lifetime of conversations around alcohol responsibility that include mindfulness, reflection, safety, and connection. These talks are not “one and done,” nor do they have to be conducted formally—the more frequent and the more natural the better. And not every conversation is about alcohol – teaching kids to make healthy, responsible decisions can happen every day. Using current events or things you and your kids are seeing are a great place to start. 

Parents are the #1 influence on their kids’ decision to drink—or not to drink—alcohol. So keep talking; keep asking questions; keep modeling responsible behaviors; and keep listening. 

It’s not too early and it’s not too late! Find resources for connecting with kids in elementary school, and continuing through middle school, high school, college, and beyond. And check out some of these facts to share with kids, from parenting influencer, pediatric emergency room doctor, and National Advisory Board member Dr. Katie Friedman:  

  • An impressive number of kids don’t drink: 
    • Underage drinking rates are at or near low levels and below pre-pandemic prevalence rates and more than 6 out of 10 teens report they have never consumed alcohol (Monitoring the Future, January 2024). 
    • The number of teens who report they have consumed alcohol has decreased 55% proportionally from 1991 to 2023 (Monitoring the Future, January 2024). 
  • Age matters: drinking underage negatively affects brain development. 
  • Women and girls (gender assigned at birth) are affected faster by alcohol because of the lower amount of water in their bodies. 
  • The smaller your physical build, the faster alcohol will affect you, and at lower amounts. 
  • Certain types of drinks contain a higher percentage of alcohol than others. While a standard 12 oz can of beer is a different size than a standard 5 oz glass of wine or cocktail with the standard pour of 1.5 oz of spirits, they contain the same amount of alcohol.

Why are these conversation starters important? Because when conversations around alcohol go up, underage drinking rates go down. Kids need to hear consistently and decidedly that underage drinking is illegal. And that underage drinking and drunk driving are both illegal and dangerous. Let your kids know: 

  • You can call me if you need to get out of any uncomfortable situation. 
    • Set up a code word or a text signal 
    • Practice ways to say “NO” 
    • Understand that alcohol negatively affects the developing brain and can cause short- and long-term damage. 
    • Never get into a car with anyone who is drunk or impaired.

Why are these conversation starters important? Because when conversations between caregivers and kids about alcohol increase, underage drinking rates decrease. Kids need to hear reportedly that underage drinking is not the norm--most kids don't drink. And underage drinking and drunk driving are both illegal and dangerous.

Our research shows that when conversations go up, underage drinking goes down. Since 2003, conversations between parents and kids have increased 90%. During that same period, current rates of underage drinking have decreased by 53%. 

We’ve developed programs and resources to prepare for a lifetime of conversations with kids, teens, college students, and adults of legal drinking age. Read on to learn more:

Responsibility & Kids

Responsibility & Teens

Responsibility on Campus

Drinking Responsibly