Now that prom and graduation celebrations are in the past, parents may be giving a sigh of relief thinking the most critical time to watch for underage drinking is over. But this is no time to relax. First-time use of alcohol peaks during the summer months when teens generally have more free time and less adult supervision.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), June and July are the peak months for teen drinking. Social hosting and underage drinking parties occur frequently during the summer months. Social hosting is defined as providing alcohol to minors, other than your own children, in your home or on your property. Everyone needs to be aware of the possible consequences of this illegal activity. Consequences for your teen, their friends... and yourself.
Social hosting is a Class A misdemeanor. Adults who knowingly allow persons under the age of 21 to remain in their home or on their property while consuming alcohol or other drugs can receive a fine up to $6,500 or up to a year in jail. In addition, these adults can be sued civilly if one of these minors hurts themselves or others, or damages property. This sort of legal risk can occur whether or not the parent or adult was aware of the underage drinking or drug use.
Why do some individuals put themselves in this risky position? It's not
uncommon for well-meaning adults to allow drinking while taking away car keys in an effort to keep teens safe from drinking and driving. While we must always keep youth safe on the roads, this is not the only danger.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) research shows that drinking and drug use during the teen years can hijack normal adolescent brain development. It can change the brain in ways that have long-term negative effects on information processing and learning.
And what if one of your teen's friends is genetically wired for alcoholism? Giving them their first sip can lead to a lifetime of consequences.
Here are several ways to help avoid the risks:
1. Make sure minors do not bring alcohol or drugs to your home or property.
2. Be at home when your teen has a party.
3. Secure or lock your liquor cabinet if you have alcohol in your home.
4. Use a lock box to store marijuana or vaping products if you use them.
5. Do not leave prescription drugs in places like the bathroom cabinet where everyone has access to them.
6. Talk to other parents and adults about your concerns.
7. Make sure minors in your household are not getting alcohol or drugs from older siblings or older friends.
As a community, it is everyone's job to protect our youth. Let's all work towards a safe summer. Thank you.
Oregon City Police Officer Spencer Rohde serves as a school resource office and is a member of the Oregon City Together Coalition that focuses on preventing youth substance abuse.
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