Underage Drinking Peaks in Summer, Says New Research from Caron Treatment Centers

Results Highlight Need for Parents to Convey Consistent Messages about Drinking Alcohol

Jun 27, 2013, 09:08 ET from Caron Treatment Centers

WERNERSVILLE, Pa., June 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Fourth of July is a time to barbecue, celebrate and spend time with friends and family; however, a new survey by Caron Treatment Centers reveals 83% of Americans aged 18-40 believe it's the leading summer holiday for excess drinking. Correspondingly, 61% identified summer as the season teens are most likely to engage in underage drinking.

The online survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Caron in June 2013 among 848 U.S. adults aged 18-40, revealed that 78% tried alcohol for the first time when they were underage. Of those, 36% had their first experience with alcohol before age 16, including 10% before age 12; only 2/5 indicate their parents had a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking.

"There's still a pervasive misconception that underage drinking is an acceptable rite of passage – when it's actually extremely dangerous to the developing adolescent brain and can have deadly consequences," said Tammy Granger, Corporate Director of Student Assistance Programs at Caron. "Many parents feel there's nothing they can do to prevent underage drinking, but research shows teens are highly influenced by their parents' behavior. It's critical to consistently demonstrate habits, values and messages that we'd like to see our children adopt."

Many adults hold conflicting opinions when it comes to underage drinking. While 63% of U.S. adults 18-40 expressed concern about the availability of alcohol to teenagers, a surprising 41% believed it's best for teenagers to learn to 'drink responsibly' in high-school rather than waiting until they're of legal age. Granger notes that teenagers are unable to 'drink responsibly' because their brains are simply not capable of making such decisions – especially when impaired.

Mary, a 27-year-old Caron Renaissance alumna, remembers the underage drinking culture at her Long Island, New York high-school. Now four years sober, she believes too many parents allow their children to drink alcohol at home as a way of 'keeping an eye on them' – but in hindsight, she believes it's the wrong message to send.

"I understand parents are trying to protect their children, but unfortunately, it doesn't really work that way," said Mary. "Your kids are engaging in crazy and destructive behavior. The fact that it's happening under your roof doesn't make it safer or better for them."

Additional survey findings include:

  • 70% recalled an adult/caregiver in their life engaging in inappropriate behavior while under the influence of alcohol; 19% cited driving while intoxicated, specifically.
  • Nearly 31% said their parents accepted underage drinking (allowing parties, providing alcohol, allowing drinking without driving or simply not addressing the subject).
  • 29% agreed it was fine for high-school students to drink as long as they don't drive.

With new dangers emerging every day for teens, such as prescription drug abuse, a soft stance on underage drinking may convey that illegal behavior will be tolerated. Through its centers, Caron has observed that many teens and young adults who enter treatment first drank alcohol before later abusing prescription drugs and other substances.

"It's really important for teens and young adults to have sober role models to emulate and understand that there's a community of young people who live amazing lives without alcohol or drugs," said Mary. "There's a tremendous amount of pressure today – and the influence of supportive and decisive adults, with a clear set of boundaries and rules, is invaluable."

To learn more about teens and substance abuse, please visit: http://www.caron.org.

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Caron Treatment Centers from June 11–13, 2013, among 848 adults ages 18–40. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact rwallace@affect.com.

About Caron Treatment Centers
Caron Treatment Centers is a nationally recognized non-profit provider of alcohol and drug addiction treatment. With over 55 years in the field, Caron is one of the oldest and largest organizations offering primary, relapse and longer-term residential treatment for adolescents, young adults, adults and older adults, as well as families affected by the disease of addiction. Caron's treatment is gender separate and gender-specific. Caron has extensive experience in the treatment of co-occurring psychological/psychiatric disorders within its patient community. Formerly the Caron Foundation, the acclaimed Caron Treatment Centers network operates treatment centers in Wernersville, PA; Dallas, TX; and Caron Renaissance in Boca Raton, FL. Caron also operates Hanley Center in West Palm Beach and Gate Lodge in Vero Beach, FL. Caron has regional offices in Boston, Bermuda, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. For more information, visit caron.org.

SOURCE Caron Treatment Centers