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Underage Drinking Prevention & Awareness

Think adolescent and teen drinking is no big deal? Think again. When used or misused during this critical time of growth, alcohol can have long-term, irreversible effects on the body and the brain, which continues to develop until around age 25. The fact is, drinking shouldn’t be considered a rite of passage for teens or a normal part of youth. The minimum legal drinking age of 21 protects minors from both serious health impacts and misjudgments made while under the influence, which can put them in danger of car crashes, injuries, sexual assault, and more.

Alcohol can impair youth development, causing:

  1. Changes in brain development, which can lead to cognition problems later in life
  2. Reduced estrogen and testosterone levels and impaired sexual development
  3. Impaired physical growth

Driving and underage drinking don’t mix.

  1. Driving under the influence increases the risk of getting into a car accident
  2. Drunk drivers aged 16-20 are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as those aged 21+

Underage youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience social or legal problems, including:

  1. Lack of participation in activities
  2. Fighting and aggressive behavior
  3. Getting a DUI and/or arrested

Alcohol interferes with academic performance, causing:

  1. Disrupted concentration
  2. Lower grades
  3. More absences
  4. Delaying both reaction and recovery times
  5. Negating up to 2 weeks of training

Alcohol use interacts with conditions like depression and stress

  1. Alcohol contributes to an estimated 300 teen suicides each year
  2. High school students who drink are twice as likely to have seriously considered attempting suicide (vs. non-drinkers)

Drinking alcohol before age 21 is strongly linked to:

  1. The misuse of other substances while under 21
  2. Heavier drinking and/or alcohol dependence later in life
  3. Drug dependence in adulthood

The minimum legal drinking age of 21 works. When states adopted it,

  1. There was a 16% decline in car crashes
  2. Drinkers were found to be better protected from alcohol & drug dependence, suicide, and homicide
  3. Drinking among those age 21 – 25 also declined, from 70% to 56%

For Parents

Talking with Your Child About Alcohol

There are many reasons your teen or adolescent might drink—but knowing that their parents disapprove is the #1 reason children don’t drink. That’s why it’s so important to have frequent discussions about the risks of underage drinking. Don’t assume that your child knows how you feel or what the rules are—be clear about your expectations!

  1. Keep an open door, and an open mind. Foster a strong relationship and healthy communication with your child. They’ll be more likely to talk to you—and more likely to listen.
  2. Start early. On average, children first try alcohol between the ages of 11-13. It’s never too soon to start the conversation about alcohol.
  3. State the facts. Tell your child about how alcohol use can impact their brain, sexual, and overall physical development.
  4. Set the rules. Set clear, specific rules about—and consequences for—using alcohol. Ensure that your rules are enforceable: a lack of consistency sends mixed messages to your child.
  5. Keep checking in. Open, ongoing conversation is a reminder that your child has a caring person they can turn to with questions or if problems arise.

Resources for Parents:

For Liquor Store Owners

Merchants: Do Your Part to Prevent Underage Alcohol Sales

It’s the Law! Adopting responsible policies and practices regarding alcohol sales to underage youth is good for your business—and your community.

  1. Create a detailed written policy that includes:
    • How and when ID checks are to be performed
    • What forms of ID are acceptable
    • What to look for when checking an ID
    • When a sale should be refused
    • The consequences for failing to perform an ID check
  2. Post signs to show customers that you are committed to checking IDs.
  3. Encourage all employees to take the Training for Intervention ProcedureS (TIPS). TIPS is designed to prevent intoxication, drunk driving, and underage drinking.

Resources for Liquor Store Owners & Employees:


Learn More About Underage Drinking

Resources for Quitting

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol, help is available.

Here’s where to start in Connecticut: