UT:  PODCAST – Parents Empowered: Spring break & underage drinking prevention

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

UT:  PODCAST – Parents Empowered: Spring break & underage drinking prevention



March 12, 2020

(KUTV) — 2News Heidi Hatch discusses spring break and underage drinking prevention with guests from Parents Empowered.

The podcast is being offered quarterly to help parents understand the ramifications of underage drinking and how to prevent it. This is the third podcast to date.

The question and answer segment included – but was not limited to – back-to-school being an ideal time to talk about the effects alcohol has on a child’s underdeveloped brain (and that includes the brains of teenagers).

For the entire Q&A, please listen to the Parents Empowered podcast, available by clicking here.

Q: Spring Break is here and whether your kids will be home or traveling with friends, it’s important to make sure their vacation doesn’t include alcohol. We’re talking today with two substance use prevention experts about what parents can do to make sure their kids’ social environment remains alcohol-free. Can you tell us what we as parents should be most concerned about?

A: David: Well, I think we’re all aware that Spring Break is a very popular party time for kids—and those celebrations often include alcohol.

  • A recent survey looked at over 250,000 Instagram posts and over 10,000 Instagram photos with the hashtag #SpringBreak to see how often illicit substances are featured or mentioned.
  • Over 50% of all posts made reference to alcohol or drugs, with 3/4 of them mentioning alcohol.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States and it’s the easiest to access for our kids.
  • There seems to be a bit of disconnect with Utah parents about whether kids are actually drinking.
  • In Utah, parents often underestimate the possibility their child has tried alcohol.
  • Only 9% of Utah parents thought their child was somewhat or very likely to have tried alcohol. But in the Utah SHARP Survey, where kids self-report their underage drinking behavior, 16% of kids in grades 6-12 reported having actually tried alcohol.
  • In addition, holidays like Spring Break and St. Patrick’s Day tend to normalize underage drinking—especially binge drinking.

Peter: Yes, if I can add to what David’s saying,

  • People aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.
  • More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks.
  • Although adolescents and young adults drink less often than adults, they tend to drink more than adults, frequently drinking as many as 5 or more drinks on a single occasion.

Q:So you’re telling me that kids in Utah are drinking to get drunk. What’s the definition for binge drinking?

A: Binge drinking is defined as consuming more than 4-5 servings of alcohol in a 2-hour period.

  • In Utah, kids are consuming large quantities of alcohol in a single sitting, sometimes as much as 8 drinks at a time.
  • In fact, Utah kids are binge drinking at higher rates than their peers in other states.
  • In 2019, of those 12th graders in Utah that reported drinking in the past 30 days, 62% also reported binge drinking in the past 2 weeks, whereas nationally, of those 12th graders who drank, 46% also reported binge drinking.
  • The differences between Utah and national averages are even greater with our 8th and 10th graders.
  • Really? So underage drinking actually is a serious challenge in Utah—especially binge drinking. What are the potential harms of binge drinking?

 David: Binge drinking carries more serious and longer-lasting risks.

  • The first risk is Alcohol Poisoning, which can be life-threatening.
  • Unlike adults, most kids’ brains haven’t yet developed the internal cutoff switch that makes them go to sleep or pass out from drinking too much.
  • They can easily consume dangerous amounts of alcohol before their bodies realize it.
  • The resulting alcohol poisoning can cause difficulty with breathing, unconsciousness and death.
  • It’s important to note the lethal dose of alcohol is just a tiny bit more than the passing-out dose.

Binge drinking can also cause impaired judgment.

  • Heavy drinkers are more likely to take risks or engage in reckless behavior that they might not take when they’re sober.
  • They may drive drunk and injure themselves or others.
  • Car accidents are the number one killer of teens; and more than one-third of teen traffic deaths are alcohol-related.
  • Even nondrinking teens are at risk if they get into a car with an alcohol-impaired driver.

Peter: Underage drinking is also strongly linked with poor academic performance & mental health challenges.

  • Kids who binge drink have a harder time in school and are more likely to drop out.
  • Underage drinkers are over 30% more likely to be depressed or attempt suicide.
  • Kids are also more likely to distance from their families, experience low self-esteem and be hampered in their ability to reach their full potential.

Finally, binge drinking at a young age can change how teen brains develop, leading to addiction and difficulties with learning and problem-solving.

  • Adolescent brains are going through dramatic developmental changes. Alcohol can adversely affect how the brain develops and functions.
  • If heavy drinking begins before age 13, there’s a 45% chance of becoming alcohol-dependent later in life.
  • Because nearly 4 out of 5 people in treatment for alcohol use disorder say they began drinking alcohol in adolescence, alcohol abuse is considered a “pediatric-onset” condition. (deseret.com/2019/2/24/20666674/a-disorder-that-kills-more-people-than-opiids-starts-in-childhood-is-your-child-at-risk)
  • Consequently, it’s also a very preventable condition.
  • Stop underage drinking, and you help stop everything else.

Q: With Spring Break upon us, what are the legal consequences of underage drinking? I know lots of kids travel with their friends during that time and law enforcement is out in force. What are the ramifications if your child is caught drinking underage?

A: While it depends on the specific laws of the state, a person under 21 who attempts to purchase, consume or possess alcohol can be cited and fined. The minor’s driver’s license may also be suspended. There is also the possibility of jail time, community service or mandatory alcohol awareness classes.

Utah is a Zero Tolerance state with strict “not a drop” laws. If a minor has any measurable amount of alcohol in their blood, breath or urine they can receive up to six months in jail and up to $1,850 in fines and surcharges. A first-time violation for underage drinking or possession of alcohol can result in a 90-day driver’s license suspension—even if a vehicle is not involved. If kids under 21 use a fake ID or try to get into a bar, they are subject to the same criminal penalties and driver’s license sanctions. Underage drinking citations can also potentially affect college and scholarship applications.

Q: Where are Utah kids getting their alcohol these days?

A: We asked Utah parents the same question—if their child were to get access to alcohol, where would it be?

  • 32% of Utah parents said it would be at a party.
  • When we asked Utah kids who drink where they got their alcohol, 57% said it was at a party.
  • Only 12% of parents predicted that kids would get their alcohol from home.
  • But the reality is that 59% get of the kids who drink get their alcohol at home or someone else’s home without any parental permission.
  • But even more alarming is that 44% of Utah kids who drink get their alcohol at home, with their parents’ permission.