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Do you know where your teen drinks?

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By The Staff

A recent federal report entitled, “Underage Alcohol Use: Where Do Young People Drink?” sheds some revealing light on this question and the answers that many parents, other concerned caretakers and inquiring minds want to know.

The 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) asked young people ages 12 to 20 who had used alcohol in the past month two questions: how did they get it and where did they drink it?

The report intends to give parents the ammunition they need to better target their efforts in ensuring teens have fewer opportunities to engage in underage drinking. 

Possibly a surprise to some, the survey found that more than 8 out of 10 teens who drink are consuming alcohol in a home environment - either their own (30 percent) or someone else’s home (53 percent).

Not so surprisingly, but maybe more frightening, one out of 10 teens are drinking in a motor vehicle.

Numbers do vary based on different age groups.

Older teens are more likely to drink at someone else’s home - more than 60 percent of drinkers age 16 or 17 used alcohol in someone else’s home the last time they drank.

Young teens are more likely to consume in their own home - about 36 percent of teens aged 13 or 14 last drank in their own residences.

The survey also found that 10 percent of 13-year-old drinkers last consumed alcohol in public places (such as a park, a beach or a parking lot). 

Among young people ages 18-20, the report noted that teens who were living with a parent or parental relative were more likely than those who were not to have most recently used alcohol in someone else’s home than their own - about a 10 percent difference.

However, more than half of underage drinkers who were full-time college students last drank alcohol in someone else’s home, regardless of whether they were living with a parental relative. 

These aren’t just statistics.

For parents, this survey data can help guide actions and decisions.

Parents of young teens need to be more aware of the possibility of public drinking, while parents of older teens need to be more inquisitive when teens gather at friends’ homes.

Our homes and our neighbors’ homes are not as safe for our teens as we may have thought.

Parents must remain diligent in making sure their teen is safe - even in their own home - and in cars and public places.

Knowing where teens are most likely to drink can help parents devise their own prevention plans.

Don’t be fooled - drinking at home is not a safe option. The adolescent brain does not stop developing until age 25. Teen alcohol consumption endangers proper brain development.

If you suspect or know your teen is using alcohol or other drugs, contact the Early Intervention Program (EIP), an assessment and educational program for youth 13-17 years of age, at vserrano@sevencounties.org, or call Vicki Serrano, Prevention Specialist, at 502-439-9699.

For more information on reducing underage drinking, contact Seven Counties Services, Inc. Regional Prevention Center at 502-589-8600 or www.sevencounties.org/prevention.

This article is a summation of the fuller report that can be found at http://oas.samhsa.gov.