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This Summer Be the Dedicated Grownup 

June 21, 2013  |  Falmouth Enterprise

By Dr. Michael Bihari

Today is the official start of summer and unfortunately the start of a season of increased underage drinking. We all look forward to the more relaxed atmosphere including deck parties, hanging out at the beach, and mingling with summer visitors looking for a good time. 

As mentioned in a previous article the riskiest time of the year for first-time alcohol and other drug use among youth is the summer months. Think Carefully Before Serving Alcohol to a Minor

Before allowing your teens to have a party in your home where alcohol will be served it’s important for you to understand the possible consequences. A teen who starts drinking before age 15 is four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence and is two and a half times more likely to become an abuser of alcohol than one who begins drinking at age 21.

The law in Massachusetts is clear: whoever furnishes alcohol to a person under 21 years of age shall be punished by a fine up to $2,000 or imprisonment for up to a year or both. 

It will be on you...

  • if your teen is caught with alcohol
  • if your teen gets arrested
  • if your teen has a car accident
  • if your teen injures themselves or others 

Reality Versus Myth

Some parents allow their teens to drink at home and may even allow a party where alcohol is served. Although well-intentioned, doing so presents a legal danger for you as a parent and a serious health risk for your teen.

MYTH: You may believe that It’s OK as long as they don’t drive.

REALITY: Only one-third of underage drinking deaths involve auto crashes.  The remaining two-thirds involve alcohol poisoning, homicides, suicides, and unintentional injuries such as burns, drowning, and falls.  Taking away the car keys does nothing to prevent all the other damage that can result from underage drinking.  And youth have pointed out that they see a mixed message when parents are willing to host an underage drinking party as long as nobody’s driving.

MYTH: You may think that providing alcohol to your teen at home decreases the risk for continued drinking as your adolescent gets older, and subsequent drinking problems later in life. 

REALITY: The opposite is true – you should be aware that supplying alcohol to a minor actually increases, rather than decreases the risk for continued drinking in the teenage years and leads to subsequent problem drinking later in life.

MYTH: You may believe that being ‘too strict’ about adolescent drinking during high school will cause teens to drink more when they first leave home and do not have as much parental oversight.  

REALITY: Research from shows that teens who perceive their parents to be more permissive about alcohol use are MORE likely to abuse alcohol.

It’s Your Home, You’re In Charge!

More than half of high school students who say their parents allow them to drink at home – even just occasionally – report that they drink elsewhere with their friends, as compared to just 14 percent of teens whose parents don’t let them drink at home.

If you allow their teens to have friends over to drink, thinking it’s a safe way to keep them off the roads, you may be surprised to find they you are subject to liability laws that make you vulnerable to lawsuits, fines and jail time.

Have a fun summer and keep your teens safe!


MedlinePlus: Underage Drinking is an excellent source of information about underage drinking. The site provides access to information from reliable sources that is accurate and up-to-date. 


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