April is Alcohol Awareness Month!
Healthy Androscoggin, Project Unite! and the Androscoggin County Alcohol Enforcement Team, and other community partners have worked together tirelessly to reduce underage drinking in Ancroscoggin County. This hard work has paid off in recent years.
In 2000 about 1 in 3 youth between 6th and 12th grade reported using alcohol in the past 30 days. In 2015, that number is down to 1 in 5 or about 19% of all high school youth 3.2% for middle school youth in Androscoggin County.
However there are still areas for concern:
Parents hold the key to prevent underage drinking!
While a community approach to reducing underage drinking has provided some success, research still shows that parents have the most powerful role in preventing underage drinking. There are some very simple, yet effective, steps parents can take to help prevent underage drinking.
1. Be a positive role model and teacher of values.
- Communicate and demonstrate clear and consistent rules and values concerning alcohol use and underage drinking.
- Avoid messages that condone alcohol use such as “I’ve had a rough day! I need a drink!”
- If you are hosting a get-together of adults AND children, such as a picnic or outdoor party, consider making the get-together alcohol-free.
2. Educate your teens about the risks and consequences of underage drinking.
- Be sure you understand the facts of underage drinking and alcohol use which you can find at sites such as: Maine Parents.
- Talk from a place of caring, not authority.
- Invite your teen’s input and ideas but avoid getting hooked into an argument.
3. Communicate clear guidelines for behavior.
- Areas to cover include: curfews, having friends over, spending nights out, and parties.
- Establish a “no use” rule for your teens with clear and logical consequences.
4. Give your teens some healthy opportunities for challenge.
- Teens may use alcohol and other drugs to fulfill their natural desire to take risks.
- Help your teen identify positive challenges such as hiking, cycling, music, art, or joining an activity at your local YMCA, YWCA, Boys and Girls Club, Recreation Department, etc.
5. Talk with your teen about how to resist peer pressure.
- Explain to your teen that they have the right to say “no” to peer pressure.
- Help your teen recognize their strength to do what’s right and point it out each time they display that strength.
- Work with your teen to come up with a good “comeback” line for when they are offered alcohol.
- Stay connected, keep checking in with your teen. Keep the lines of communication open.
Following these simple steps can go along way to prevent underage drinking.
Various community partners have come together to share tips, advice, and tools for alcohol use and underage drinking.
Lisbon Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) provides some information for youth.
Androscoggin County Sheriff Eric Samson offers some thoughts and information on binge drinking.
Do you have any tips or strategies you’ve used that have been successful? Please share them with us.