TULSA, OK – [December 19, 2016] – The holidays are a time for fun, celebration and relaxation. However, it is also a time when youth are more likely to have access to alcohol. The Tulsa Health Department’s Regional Prevention Coordinator program encourages parents to talk to their children about the dangers of underage drinking.
“On an average day in December in the United States, approximately 11,000 youth will try alcohol for the first time,” said Marianne Long, Tulsa Health Department’s RPC program manager. “Opportunities and pressure to drink – especially during celebrations – can increase during this time of year because most students are out of school for winter break, and people tend to have more alcohol in their home during the holiday season.”
This is a public health problem because alcohol is the most widely used substance by our youth.
An Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment survey conducted in 2014 found that in Tulsa County, 15.7% of responding 8th grade students reported they had consumed alcohol within the last 30 days. Additionally, 40.5% of responding 12th grade students reported they had used alcohol with the last 30 days.
“Although their friends and the media play a role, parents are the number one influence on their children’s decision about alcohol. They are paying attention to what you say and do,” said Long. “Talk to your kids about the risks of underage drinking. If they go to a party, talk to the other parents to be certain that alcohol will not be available. Urge your child to call you if he/she feels uncomfortable. Be available to provide them with a ride home if needed.”
The RPC program offers the following tips to help prevent underage drinking:
Do not change or relax your rules simply because it is the holiday season. Teens need limits and need monitoring.
If you leave home for an evening, be certain that your alcohol is locked up, especially if your teen may have friends over. Be aware that unsupervised teens are at risk for alcohol use.
Be sure to lock your medicine cabinet when teens are at your house. Alcohol is not the only substance that might be accessible. Prescription medicine abuse is growing, so be aware of this.
Be a role model yourself. Know your limits. Do not drink and drive.
Never provide alcohol or a place to drink alcohol to underage persons. This is against the law.
Regional Prevention Coordinators
Regional Prevention Coordinators is a grant funded program established to reduce the rates for underage drinking, adult binge drinking, and the non-medical use of painkillers within Tulsa County. The work of RPC is concentrated on population-level change in Tulsa County by assisting communities in determining the substance abuse problems affecting their constituents and the most effective strategies to address these problems. RPC works with local coalitions and stakeholders to gather data, track trends, and provide training and technical assistance within the community. Additionally, RPC provides support for town hall meetings and assists with local alcohol compliance operations. For more information regarding the RPC program at the Tulsa Health Department, please visit www.tulsa-health.org.
Oklahoma Prevention Needs Assessment
The OPNA survey is given to 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th grade students across the state every two years. The survey helps determine students’ involvement in and attitudes toward alcohol use, drug use, violence and other problem behaviors. The survey assesses peer and parent attitudes on these behaviors as well as other risk and protective factors which have been shown to influence academic success, likelihood of school dropout, violence and substance abuse. School and student participation is voluntary and the responses are confidential. The results of the 2016 OPNA survey will be published in 2017.