LYME/OLD LYME — With Prom and summer fast approaching, now is the perfect time to raise awareness about underage drinking in Lyme and Old Lyme. Remember aalcohol continues to be the first substance consumed by young people.
One way we can work to stop teens from drinking is to prevent easy access to alcohol and recognize that tnot drinking is do not inevitable.
The 2021 Lyme-Old Lyme Youth Survey reports that 62% of high school students do not drink alcohol regularly.
Unfortunately, 70% of the 12and proofreaders report that it is easy to get booze. Most teenage drinkers get alcohol without having to pay. They get it from friends (83%) or family members, at parties or by taking it without permission.
The 2021 Youth Survey shows that nearly 50% 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 buy it for them.
Here’s what you can do to reduce access to alcohol:
- At home, make sure that teenagers cannot consume alcohol without your knowledge. Uncontrolled alcohol, including alcohol stored in a cabinet, refrigerator, basement, or garage, can be a temptation. If in doubt, lock it up.
- Alcohol stickers can be a helpful tool and are available at the Lymes Youth Services Office.
- Use your influence. Data shows that teens continue to worry about what their parents think, even when they’re in high school and college — 63% of students choose not to drink because they think their parents would disapprove. Let your teen know that you don’t want him to drink, and that most teens, in fact, don’t drink.
- Speak up, because silence can be misinterpreted. It may have already happened. A neighbor announces that she is having a party for teenagers, but don’t worry: she takes the car keys from every kid who comes in. Or a colleague says he serves alcohol to his son’s high school friends so they can “learn to drink responsibly.” .”
- If you hear about a situation, say that you don’t want other people serving your teen alcohol or condoning 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 drinking.
- Act before a situation arises. Start talking to parents about your child’s friends early, as early as 6th grade. Talk to them about the risks of teenage drinking and let them know that you don’t want anyone allowing 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 do not okay to serve alcohol to someone else’s teenager – and do not OK to turn a blind eye to teenage drinking.
- Let local law enforcement know that you encourage active monitoring of loud teenage parties that may report drinking.
- Tell local liquor retailers that you want them to check IDs before selling liquor. Limiting alcohol sales to legal buyers 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 about drugs or alcohol, visit www.lysb.org/prevention or contact Alli Behnke, Prevention Coordinator, [email protected]
About the Author: Alli Behnke, MSW, MA is the Prevention Coordinator at the Lymes Youth Services Bureau. She has been a social worker for 20 years and works in the fields of prevention, therapy, youth leadership and health coaching. Alli strongly believes in providing accurate information, education, and tools for success when empowering the Lyme/Old Lyme Prevention Coalition and the REACH Youth Coalition to work together on strengths-based campaigns. Coalitions tackle substance abuse and other risky behaviors that test our youth and our families. Contact her at [email protected] or visit www.lysb.org to get involved in this important community work.