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Protect your kids from alcohol misuse.

UPDATED: 04/19/2023

What role does alcohol play in our children’s lives?  

A larger role than we’d like, but recent data shows reason hope. 

National data shows alcohol is still the most-used drug among youth—but good things can happen if we keep talking to our teens.  

A time to recognize alcohol’s harm.  

April is National Alcohol Awareness Month. That makes it a good time to think about the role alcohol plays in our community—and our youth in particular.  

Underage drinking is a serious public health problem. It poses enormous health and safety risks for young people. 

The younger kids begin using alcohol, the more they’re at risk. Young people who start drinking before age 15 are more likely to experience: 

  • School absences, failing grades, poor brain development and social problems. 
  • Legal trouble and alcohol-related motor-vehicle crashes. 
  • Impaired judgment, poor concentration and memory problems. 
  • Misuse of other substances. 
  • Mood changes and stress. 
  • Alcohol problems later in life. 

National data shows alcohol is the most used substance among youth. In 2021, with data collected during COVID, we can see that drinking rates in Pierce County are higher among students who identify as Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB).

About 4.7% of Pierce County 10th graders who identified as heterosexual said they drank at least one glass, can or bottle of alcohol in the past 30 days. Among LGB students, the number jumped to 11.4%. LGB students were also much less likely than their heterosexual peers to have a negative view of drinking alcohol  

Kids need adults to talk to them about alcohol.  

It’s no surprise youth are curious about alcohol. You don’t have to consume much media to find people having fun while drinking. Youth see that and respond.   

It might not feel like it sometimes, but kids say their parents are the most influential people in their lives! 89% of parents in Pierce County have clear rules about alcohol and other drugs. And youth are less likely to use alcohol if they believe their community thinks they shouldn’t. 

You can teach them about alcohol misuse and help them build coping skills that support a healthy lifestyle.  

As youth face challenges in their lives, it’s important for them to stay healthy and resilient. Families play the most important role in teaching kids the dangers of underage drinking, binge drinking and drunk driving. 

If you’re worried about your child, you can watch for warning signs of underage drinking: 

  • Changes in mood, like anger and irritability. 
  • Problems in school. 
  • Rebelliousness. 
  • Less interest in things they like to do or how they look. 
  • Problems concentrating or remembering. 
  • Slurred speech. 
  • Coordination problems. 
  • Smelling alcohol on breath. 

How to find help for alcohol misuse.  

It’s important for parents, schools and communities to work together to keep youth healthy and safe for a brighter future. 

Students joining hands together in cooperation

Are you a teen struggling with substance use disorder? Or maybe you want to learn more ways to help youth? 

Our website offers help for teens and people who work closely with them

Underage alcohol misuse affects everyone. We’re all responsible for prevention and education. The risks of drinking alcohol at an early age far outweigh the benefits of a alcohol misuse. 

Follow our social media accounts and sign up for the Your Reliable Source blog for regular updates on important public health topics. 

UPDATED: 06/15/2023
UPDATED: 04/19/2023