A new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that 709,000 youth ages 12 to 14 in the United States are drinking beer, liquor and other alcoholic beverages.
And the surprise is that many of these underage drinkers aren’t just getting a friend to buy a six pack for them or smuggling alcohol out of the family liquor cabinet. Some are getting the alcohol directly from a parent, guardian or another adult relative.
In the past month alone, more than 200,000 kids were given alcohol by a parent or other adult family member. About 45 percent got alcohol from a parent or other family member or they took it from their home without permission.
About 15 percent of these kids just took the liquor, but 15.7 percent got it directly from that parent or guardian and another 14 percent got it from another relative, according to the study.
“SAMHSA Data Spotlight: Young Alcohol Users Often Get Alcohol from Family or Home” is based on the combined data from SAMHSA’s 2006 to 2009 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and involves responses from more than 44,000 respondents ages 12 to 14. NSDUH is a primary source of information on national use of tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs (including non-medical use of prescription drugs) and mental health in the United States. The survey is part of the agency’s strategic initiative on behavioral health data, quality and outcomes.
“People who begin drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are six times more likely than those who start at age 21 and older to develop alcohol problems. Parents and other adults need to be aware that providing alcohol to children can expose them to an increased risk for alcohol abuse and set them on a path with increased potential for addiction,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde, in the report.
David Jernigan, an associate professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, has told CADCA in previous interviews that parents need to play a larger role in preventing their children from drinking, but he places much of the blame on the alcohol industry for marketing to youth.
“The primary messages kids get about alcohol on television are from alcohol product ads that not surprisingly promote their use and enjoyment,” Jernigan has told CADCA.
Youth see about one alcohol ad per day and many coalitions have been working tirelessly to counter-act these messages in a variety of ways. From making recommendations to the Federal Communications Commission to the Ohio’s Drug-Free Action Alliance’s recent Big Bowl Vote 2011 survey and California’s Marin Institute’s Super Bowl counter ads, coalitions have been trying to raise awareness and change policies regarding alcohol advertising. CADCA also has a Strategizer available to address the topic: Strategizer 32 – Alcohol Advertising: Its Impact on Communities, and What Coalitions Can Do to Lessen that Impact.