Holidays and Underage Drinking: Night before Thanksgiving biggest night of the year for underage drinking 

The holiday season is a wonderful time of year when families come together for celebrations. The break in school gives youth an opportunity for down time to hang out with their family and friends. It can also be a time when teens are faced with situations that tempt them to make poor decisions regarding underage drinking. In fact, the night before Thanksgiving is considered the most common day for underage drinking. 

The popularity of underage drinking on this day is influenced by many factors, including the following.

Access — Older siblings and college-age friends are home for the holidays, many for the first time since going off to college. They often host social gatherings for their younger siblings and friends still in high school. 

Availability — Refrigerators are stocked with alcohol for family parties, making alcohol available when adults are often busy with putting together holiday gatherings. 

Time — School is out and teens have plenty of down time to hang out and engage in risky behavior. 

Adult modeling — Adult role models often use the sport of hunting as another drinking opportunity or even time to let their teen try their first drink. 

A Prevention Needs Assessment (PNA) Survey given in 2017 with students in grades eight through 12 revealed eye-opening data on underage drinking in our county: 14.6 percent of 8thgraders, 25.7 percent of 10thgraders, and 32.7 percent of 12thgraders reported drinking an alcoholic beverage in the past 30 days; heavy drinking is a problem at higher-grade levels – 15.4 percent of 10thgraders and 18.1 percent of 12thgraders reported binge drinking (five or more drinks in one sitting) in the past two weeks; 46.3 percent of those that report drinking say they got the alcohol from parents with their permission, 50.1 percent obtain alcohol from people over the age of 21, and 43 percent get it from other family members; 56.8 percent of those that report drinking say they drink at home with their parent’s permission and 37.4 percent drink at someone else’s home with their parent’s permission. 

Remember, it is illegal to buy or serve alcohol to anyone under 21 years of age, and buying alcohol for a minor may be a $1,000 fine and up to one year of jail time. This holiday season, we all have the opportunity to create strong family traditions that are not built around drinking, with a few simple steps. 

Take time to plan and promote non-alcoholic activities for your teens. Consider where alcohol is stocked in your home and make sure it is locked up and monitored to reduce easy access. Have open conversations with your kids about safe drinking behavior and stress that decision-making and judgment are impaired when someone is intoxicated or drunk, and that it is important to know one’s limits. Remind them that drinking and driving is never a safe option and always make sure they have a safe way home. Parents are the most important teachers for their kids; be a positive role model and limit the amount of alcohol you drink. 

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