christmas underage drinking

How to prevent underage drinking during the holidays

The holidays are a time for fun and celebration, but, unfortunately, also a time of risk for young people.

On an average December day, more than 11,000 young people in the United States, aged 12 to 17, will use alcohol for the first time. Some of these young adults will not make it to the New Year, as nearly 400 young people under age 21 die from alcohol-related causes every month, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In December 2013, a staggering 733 people lost their lives in crashes involving a drunk driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In addition, compared with other age groups, teen drivers are at a greater risk of death in alcohol-related crashes, even though they’re too young to legally buy or possess alcohol, according to the NHTSA.

Teachers, parents, guardians, families and communities must come together to prevent underage drinking during the holidays.


Before students are released for winter break, teachers can talk to their students about the dangers of underage drinking. Let students know that you care about them and you want to see all of them back after the New Year.


For parents, guardians and family members, if you have alcohol in your house, lock it up. A contributing factor to underage drinking during the holidays is that many students are left home alone while adults still have to work. Don’t let alcohol be accessible to minors.

Parents also need to talk to their kids about the dangers of underage drinking. (Click here for tips on talking to your kids.) Impaired brain development, alcohol-related injuries, risk for physical and sexual assault and the cost of a minor in possession charge are just a few of the consequences. (Click here for more on the dangers of underage drinking.)

Have an exit plan established if your child finds themselves at a holiday party that has alcohol and they start to feel unsafe or need an alternate way home. Make sure your child knows where you stand on underage drinking, and that they can always trust and call you if they need to be picked up.

Make sure you know your kid’s friends and their parents. Ask other parents about their rules on underage drinking to ensure your child isn’t going to a friend’s house where they will be served alcohol.

Community members

When it comes to community members, make sure you are doing your part to prevent underage drinking, even if you don’t have kids.

If you work at a business that sells or serves alcohol, make sure everyone is properly checking id’s and not selling alcohol to minors.

If you’re at a holiday function and there’s alcohol and minors, make sure the adults know the dangers of underage drinking and are not serving those underage.

The dangers of underage drinking are real and it will take the whole community to prevent.