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One out of every two 8th graders have tried alcohol; and today it is the most commonly used drug by youth as well as the drug resulting in the largest number of youth deaths.

Each year, about 5,000 young adults under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking: 1,900 resulting from car accidents, 1,600 from homicides, 300 from suicides, and hundreds more from accidental deaths.

The youth or adolescent brain is not fully developed and is particularly vulnerable to the affects of alcohol. Alcohol affects an individual's motor skills, lowers their impulse control, negatively affects memory, and poorly affects judgment abilities.

Drinking at a young age, particularly before the age of 15, increases a child's risk of becoming dependent on the drug, more likely to use illicit drugs, have sex and/or unprotected sex, be involved in violent activities, perform poorly in school, and get in a traffic accident.

Because drinking can have such a variety of strong negative affects on your child's life it is important that you are involved in educating them about the dangers of drinking. There are several things that you can do to help decrease the chances of your child drinking before the age of 21.

  • Start out by spending plenty of time with your children and being a positive role model for them.
  • Talk to your children about the things going in their life, and try to gain an understanding of the pressures they feel.
  • Know where your children are, what they are doing, and who they are with.
  • Make sure your children are involved in extracurricular activities like sports, music, or other programs.
  • This decreases the amount of time they have to just sit around and experiment with drugs.
  • Reward your children for good behavior and the various successes they may accomplish.
  • Building your child's confidence and self-esteem gives them the strength to resist peer pressure.