VA Group Voices Concerns about Underage Drinking
Friday, April 14, 2023
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and Virginia groups are doing their part to educate people about alcohol abuse.
The state ranked 22nd for excessive drinking in the latest America's Health Rankings report. Around 17% of Virginia adults say they've had bouts with binge-drinking more than once a month, which lines up with the national average.
Experts also worry about underage drinking. In the 2022 Monitoring the Future survey, more than half of high school seniors said they had a drink in the past year.
Barrye Price, president and CEO of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, is not surprised, since minors have easy access to alcohol.
"If you say, 'what do most houses have?' It's not cigarettes, you know, it's not marijuana, but most houses have alcohol," Price pointed out. "Beer in the fridge, wine and spirits, and I don't know anybody who doesn't have a bar in their house."
He added parents could lock up the liquor the way they would a firearm, but it appears the pandemic lowered parents' guard with underage drinking. A 2021 study found 16% of parents who never let their kids have alcohol before the pandemic, relaxed the rules during the shutdowns.
At the federal level, the Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking Act provides funding for many programs to inform youths about the dangers of underage drinking. Along with the programs, Price thinks parents are the greatest counteroffensive for keeping kids sober.
"You know, I remember as a kid, when I'd come in, my mother would always want to look me in the face, smell my breath, get close to me, and see if I'd had alcohol," Price recounted. "I tell you that I think we have to continue to do that -- you know, as parents -- to make sure our youth aren't getting involved."
And for adults, the latest federal guidelines recommend drinking alcohol only in moderation, meaning two drinks or fewer per day.
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