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Preventing underage drinking over the holidays

The appearance of snowy weather tends to mark the start of the holiday season, and both have arrived here in the Rutland region. It’s a time of year focused on gathering with friends and family to enjoy festivities and create memories. It’s a time of year that youth look forward to – being home while on break from school, having time to unwind, relax and have fun.

This is also a time of year that the prevalence of underage drinking is high. It’s risky behavior that has real consequences for people of all ages.

Underage drinking can lead to car crashes, accidents, addiction, injury and death. It also poses a liability risk to adults that knowingly or unknowingly act as a conduit to underage youth obtaining alcohol. In Vermont, you and your teen can legally be held responsible for someone under the age of 21 being provided alcohol on your property. The costs are high. You can be fined, you can go to jail, and you can be sued by all of the people impacted. Whether you’re a host or a guest, it’s worth being aware of what is happening with teens when you’re home or away.

High school students and young adults in Rutland County reported through the Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey (2015) and the Vermont Young Adult Survey (2014), that:

  • 22% rode in a vehicle with a driver that had been drinking and 5% drove while intoxicated within a 30 day period;

  • 15% report binge drinking, with drinking mostly occurring either in someone else’s home (59%) or their own home (32%);

  • 6% of 18-25 year olds drove under the influence of alcohol during a 30 day period; and,

  • From 2014 to 2015, the rate of alcohol citations for youth under 21 increased in Rutland County compared to a decrease within the state overall.

With these self-reported behaviors of underage drinking and where it’s occurring, knowing what you can do to prevent it is important for the health and future of the youth and young adults of our community.  Here are some ideas to help make sure this holiday season is filled with fun and safe celebrations:

  • Provide alcohol-free activities and events for youth during the holiday season.

  • Talk to other parents about alcohol-free youth events. After all, it takes a community.

  • Say ‘no’ to providing alcohol to people under the age of 21.

  • Report underage drinking to the authorities.

We hope you join in our efforts to keep our teens safe this holiday season by saying no to underage drinking!

Help to shape a healthier, happier Rutland region by joining Partners for Prevention in building a sustainable substance abuse prevention network.

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