TULSA, OK – [December 21, 2018] – 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. Unfortunately these holiday celebrations may be tempting for youth to try alcohol and attempt to drive after drinking. Do not let the holiday celebrations turn into tragedy. Talk to your children about this.”
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 2016 found that in Tulsa County, 13.2 percent of responding 8th grade students reported they had consumed alcohol within the last 30 days.
“Even more shocking is that 6.2 percent of 6th graders had consumed alcohol within the last 30 days,” added Long.
Additionally, 35.5 percent 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. Set a good example for your children. Do not drink and drive yourself. Arrange for a designated driver and take a cab if you have had any alcohol.”
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.