As parents, your number one priority is keeping your child safe. When it comes to underage drinking, you may think the safest option is to allow your teen and their friends a safe, supervised place to taste beer for the first time by allowing them to drink in your home. While your intentions may be good, allowing your child to drink in your home could not only lead to drivers license suspensions or the reporting of the incident on your child's transcript or school record, it may also land you in jail.
Connecticut passed its Social Host or “House Party” Law in 2012. This law made the property owner fully responsible for any underage drinking on their property regardless of if they were aware of it. Allowing teens to drink in your home or on your property can result in a $2,000 fine, court ordered evaluations, jail time, probation, or even criminal charges.
Click the image below to view the law enforcement guide.
Dangers of Underage Drinking
Potential jail time or fines aren’t the only reasons to encourage your child to wait until they are 21 to drink. According to Frank Bartolomeo, Director of Adolescent Services at Silver Hill Hospital, there is a 1 in 4 chance your teen will develop Alcohol Addiction or Alcohol Use Disorder if they begin drinking before the age of 18. That drops to a 1 in 25 chance if your child waits until the legal drinking age of 21 to begin drinking.
Underage drinking leads to violence, sexual assault, reduced brain functions, and in some of the worst cases, death. If teens do decide to drink, 90% of the time they consume alcohol through binge drinking which can lead to alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning is one of the leading causes of substance related death in young people.
Underage Drinking in Connecticut
According to a national CDC survey, most high school students (about 7 out of 10) don’t drink. Unfortunately, that is not the case in Connecticut. The statewide statistics show that 50% of Connecticut teens have tried alcohol and that number is higher in southwestern Connecticut. Talking to your child about the dangers of alcohol is one of the most effective ways to curb underage drinking. In fact, over 80% of teens cite their parents as the main reason they choose not to drink.
In addition to talking with your child, you can:
model healthy behaviors regarding alcohol at home,
help your child to understand what qualities to look for in a friend
involve your child in setting and maintaining clear and sensible rules about drinking
create an honest and open environment for them to talk about the pressures and struggles they are facing.
When to Seek Help
Identifying when your teen needs additional assistance can be extremely difficult. According to John Hamilton, CEO of Liberation Programs, if your teen drives after drinking, drinks for relaxation or to cope with stress, drinks while alone, or experiences partial or total blackouts after a night of drinking, they may need additional assistance dealing with their alcohol use.
TheHubCT.org offers an extensive list of resources and services to help you or your child deal with Substance Use Disorders. Download our resource guide here or go to www.thehubct.org/treatment.