Health Alliance on Alcohol Offers Tips for Parents to Curb Underage Drinking

HeinekenWHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — During Alcohol Awareness Month, and with prom and graduation season just around the corner, now is a critical time for parents to engage their teens in discussions about alcohol, according to the Health Alliance on Alcohol.

The 2011 “Monitoring the Future” report found that since 1991, eighth-grade students who said they had used alcohol within the last 30 days has declined by half, to 13%. Rates have also fallen among older students, specifically among 12th graders dropping from 41% in 1981 to 22% this year. Still, there’s work that needs to be done.

In an effort to create strong family dialogue around alcohol and prevent underage drinking, HEINEKEN USA joined forces in 2005 with the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System (NYPH) and White Plains Hospital Center (WPHC) as part of a national public initiative called the Health Alliance on Alcohol (HAA). The goal of the HAA is to provide parents, mentors and community leaders a set of tools to engage teens in honest, fact-based conversations around alcohol and its effects.

In its seven years, HAA has created and distributed more than 500,000 of its Facts & Conversations series of educational booklets across the United States to help parents have on-going conversations with their children. The materials are designed to offer parents facts about topics such as peer pressure or spring break, and help start a fact-based conversation that is age appropriate for children between the ages of 11 and 21. These materials are available to parents free of charge and can be viewed or downloaded in English or Spanish versions at

“The Health Alliance on Alcohol is a collaborative effort to provide the tools to start and continue important conversations about alcohol with their children,” said Karen Soren, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health and the Director of Adolescent Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.

“A vast majority of teens are unaware of the many effects that drinking alcohol can have on their body. Open lines of communication can help avoid these issues before they start,” said Randi Teplow-Phipps, M.D., Fellow, Adolescent Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York Presbyterian.

Drs. Soren and Teplow-Phipps offer the following tips to parents:

  • Be a good role model. Your children watch what you “do” more than what you “say.” Drink in moderation and understand the amount of alcohol in a “standard” drink can vary. Most importantly, do not drink and drive under any circumstance.
  • Communicate: Start the conversation with your teen. Ask where your child plans to go, and with whom. Discuss the possibility that alcohol will be present, and emphasize to your teenager that drinking is illegal at this age and that alcohol use can be dangerous.
  • Have a two-way conversation with your child. The best way to influence your teen’s decisions is to really listen and try not to judge. In addition to emphasizing safety, also make your child aware of both the legal and personal consequences of getting caught trying to purchase alcohol.
  • Be aware that alcohol is often easy to access. Reports show that teens feel they can access alcohol more readily as they approach their senior year of high school. Make sure you don’t become a point of access. Always know how much alcohol you have in the house and be mindful of where you keep it.
  • Discuss peer pressure and peer influence. Peer pressure often pushes good kids into making bad decisions, and adding alcohol can make things worse. Get to know your child’s friends and their parents. Think about role playing difficult situations with your teen, to give them the words to say “No.”
  • Don’t allow your child and their friends to drink in your home. It is a myth that providing alcohol to teens at home at home is safer. It’s not only about driving. Teens who are drunk are more prone to get into fights, be either the victims or perpetrators of sexual assaults, or get into other accidents that do not necessarily involve a car. You are liable if underage kids are drinking on your property. This can mean jail time, loss of employment and/or loss of personal assets.
  • Talk to other parents. Share your opinions and clearly state your own family’s rules. You can always decide not to allow your child to attend a party if you think underage drinking may take place.

HEINEKEN USA is committed to ensuring that alcohol is always consumed responsibly by adults over 21,” said Stacey Tank, Senior Vice President & Chief Corporate Relations Officer, HEINEKEN USA. “HEINEKEN USA was the first brewer to place responsible consumption labels on all Heineken brand bottles and cans throughout the world. We take responsibility seriously and are proud to support programs that continue to raise levels of awareness and give parents the tools they need to have open conversations with their children.”

For more information on The Health Alliance on Alcohol (HAA), please visit:


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