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Celebrate Safe, Celebrate Sober

Celebrate Safe, Celebrate Sober:
Parents Need to be Aware of Alcohol Use at Holiday Celebrations

The holiday season is often accompanied by a huge spike in underage drinking and, according to several recent studies, parents are often the culprit. 

Authors of several recent studies say that parents who give their children alcohol are setting them up for more dangerous underage drinking. Often, parents believe that allowing their children to drink alcohol at home or in another supervised setting is a safe way to allow young people to drink. However, ANY underage drinking – a glass of wine at a holiday dinner, a beer while watching the football game, or toast of champagne as you ring in the New Year – is proven to contribute to future alcohol use by teens in other unsupervised, high-risk situations.  These studies also show that youth who are allowed to drink alcohol at home also drink more frequently, engage in “high risk drinking” (binge drinking, drinking and driving, etc), and get involved in more alcohol-related traffic crashes.  So, parents who believe they are opting for something safer are actually leading their children down a much riskier path.

The same researchers have found that parents who ban their children’s alcohol use at home significantly reduce the risk of creating teenage drinkers. Parents make a huge impact on their children’s drug and alcohol decisions.  Parents who set clear rules on alcohol use for their children, follow through on consequences they have established, and have regular conversations with their children about alcohol use, are more likely to have children that choose not to drink as teens.

If you are planning a holiday celebration for family, friends, neighbors, or your co-workers, you can follow these recommendations to make the event safe for youth and adults:

         Be a good role model. If you choose to serve and consume alcohol at a holiday celebration, take precaution so that all attendees remain responsible and safe.

         Know the laws in Nebraska regarding social host liability. Adults who serve alcohol at a holiday gathering can be held liable if someone – a teen OR an adult – consumes alcohol and then injuries himself or herself or a third party, or causes property damage.

         Never, ever let anyone drive after drinking. Arrange designated drivers and assure no one leaves in a vehicle with an impaired driver. Their life and your future could depend on it. 

         Make sure alcohol is not the focal point of any gathering. Serve food, have activities, and assure that there are non-alcohol beverages available.

Parents, during this season of celebration, please make careful decisions on alcohol use in your holiday events.  Please help us keep our kids and our communities safe!

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The information above was provided by the Gage County MAPS Coalition. For more information, please contact the MAPS Coalition at 402-223-1500 x 1059 or tkuipers@gagecountymaps.org.

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