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First-time Alcohol Use Among Youth in the Holidays Increases

Credit: Experts and the state are asking parents to discourage underage drinking among their children during the holidays and throughout the year. Credit: maldoR/morguefile.com
Credit: Experts and the state are asking parents to discourage underage drinking among their children during the holidays and throughout the year. Credit: maldoR/morguefile.com
December 7, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. - December is one of the prime months when youths experiment with alcohol, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

This month, the state is renewing its fight against underage drinking with new Public Service Announcements airing on local television and a call to state universities to compile a report on the impact of alcohol on adolescent brains.

While the state is stepping up its efforts, Randy Haveson, an addiction expert and author of the book "Party with a Plan," says reducing use among youth starts at home.

"I find that a lot of parents still have the idea that 'oh, they're just teenagers, of course they're going to experiment' and it really takes the parents toeing the line more and not allowing their kids to get away with this," says Haveson.

According to state data, nearly two-thirds of middle-school and high-school-aged youth know people who have tried alcohol, and by age 15 half of them have tried it. Last year Gov. Pat McCrory announced a statewide initiative, Talk It Out, to educate communities on the danger of people drinking under the legal age.

The Talk It Out initiative points to research that shows alcohol can have a long-term impact on a teen's brain, keeping the parts of the brain that make good judgment and encourage impulse control from fully developing. Haveson says the brain isn't fully developed until age 25.

"Study after study shows the earlier someone begins to drink or do other drugs, the more chance they have of developing a problem," he says.

Haveson suggests talking early and often with your children about alcohol use, explain why they should abstain, and be careful not to glorify your own adolescent years if you partook.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC