Massapequa Takes Action Coalition reminds parents and caregivers that first-time use of alcohol by 12 to 17-year-olds spikes in June, July, and December (SAMHSA). On an average day in December, approximately 11,500 12-17-year-olds drink alcohol for the first time compared to 5,000 to 8,000 new alcohol users during other months. In the Massapequas, some kids have their first drink of alcohol before the age of fourteen (2018 NYS OASAS PFS YDS Survey). Alcohol and drug use at an early age is an important predictor of the development of a substance use disorder later on in life. The majority of those who have a substance use disorder started using before age 18 and developed their disorder by age 20 (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
In spite of what we think, parents are important influencers when it comes to their children making the decision to have their first drink of alcohol. When it comes to preventing underage drinking, it’s important for parents to send clear messages of disapproval as it affects their health and safety. Over 80% of young people ages 10–18 say their parents are the leading influence on their decision whether to drink (SAMHSA). Tell them you care about their health and safety: reinforce why you don’t want your child to drink or use other drugs—because you want your child to be healthy and safe. Remain open and show your concern. Empower your child and build their refusal skills. Teach your child that underage drinking is against the law. Work with them to develop an exit plan or a way to handle the situation. Plan to have them text a code word to a family member and practice saying NO.
To learn more about underage drinking prevention or become involved in MTAC’s initiatives, you can Like MTAC on Facebook, go to mtacoalition.com or contact Cathy Samuels, MTAC Program Director, at (516) 799-3203 x131 or email email@example.com.