Summer is upon us, and with it, many youth find themselves with an opportunity to spend more time with friends and family; the daily routine activities from school comes to an end and youth may suddenly find themselves going to more gatherings and parties with friends or relatives. However, one thing that sometimes adults may not keep in mind is how easy it may be for youth to access alcohol and other substances when participating in social activities.
According to the Texas School Survey, 2018, alcohol consumed by youth is done at parties with friends, and is accessible through family and friends primarily. Summer may be an opportunity to relax and have fun, but it may also mean an increased opportunity to drink alcohol.
It is important to consider the risks associated with alcohol consumption at a young age. In 2013, there were approximately 119,000 emergency rooms visits by persons aged 12 to 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol (CBHSQ Report). Also, alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended by youth, resulting in binge drinking behaviors that impair decision-making ability, resulting in an increased chance of driving while intoxicated and being involved in crashes and injuries. Furthermore, adolescents who start drinking at 12 or younger, their lifetime risk of alcohol dependence is 41 percent, whereas if they wait until 18 or 21, their risk is 17 percent and 11 percent, respectively (American Academy of Pediatrics).
In turn, adults should be aware of what risk factors may increase the likelihood of youth engaging in risky behaviors and alcohol consumption. These factors include parental approval of substance use, family history of substance use, and association with alcohol-using peers, peer pressure, and early age of first use; all of which may contribute to an adolescent’s decision to drink alcohol.
This summer, rather than making a decision to drink, ADAP coalition wants to encourage youth to seek healthy alternatives to enjoy their summer and have fun, and encourage parents and adults to promote protective factors and create opportunities for positive engagement with youth. Some protective factors, which are defined as characteristics that lower the likelihood of problem behaviors, include family support and bonding; healthy peer associations; engagement in positive social and extracurricular activities; and clear rules and expectations from parents (PRC Risk and Protective Factors Handbook, 2018). Opportunities to engage in positive and fun alternatives are always present.
Families are encouraged to spend quality time together by practicing sports, having family fun nights, enjoying indoor movie nights or playing games, and always keeping open communication with each other.
ADAP Coalition is a program of Behavioral Health Solutions wants to remind parents and adults within the community, the importance of being involved in a child’s life and taking active steps to be a positive role model for them. If you would like more information or tips on safe and healthy alternatives for this summer follow the ADAP Coalition on Facebook. For more information, please contact Vianca Vieyra at Vvieyra@bhsst.org.