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SAMHSA Releases New Underage Drinking Prevention Materials Aimed at Parents of College-Bound Young Adults

Young adults making the transition to college are vulnerable to alcohol use, particularly during the first several weeks of their freshman year. In response, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has created The Sound of Your Voice; this short animated video encourages parents to talk with their college-bound children about the potential consequences of underage alcohol use. Talking With Your College-Bound Young Adult About Alcohol, a companion guide for parents, emphasizes the continuing influence that parents have over alcohol use decisions by their older children; this guide also offers tips on discussing alcohol use with them before and during college.

SAMHSA has designed these materials to—

  • Make parents more aware of the increased vulnerability of young adults to alcohol use during their transition to college life;
  • Increase parental awareness of the consequences of underage drinking among college students; and
  • Stress the powerful and continuing role of parents in discouraging underage drinking by young adults.

Parents can view and download the resources directly. SAMHSA encourages high school and college administrators to make parents aware of these resources and their call to action during Parent–Teacher Association meetings, college tours, and other events involving college-bound students and parents.

July Is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Communities of color tend to experience greater burden of mental and substance use disorders often due to poorer access to care; inappropriate care; and higher social, environmental, and economic risk factors.”

These disparities can be reflected in rates of underage drinking. An issue of The NSDUH Report found that youth who had experienced a major depressive episode (MDE) were twice as likely to have initiated alcohol use as those who had not experienced an MDE. In 2013, about 1 in 10 youth ages 12 to 17 (10.7 percent) had experienced an MDE.

Although minority youth drink alcohol and binge drink at lower rates than whites, unaddressed or undertreated mental health problems can raise their risk for severe, sometimes lifelong consequences.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, binge drinking among 12- to 20-year-olds in 2013 was reported by:

  • 16.8 percent of Whites;
  • 13.9 percent of American Indians or Alaska Natives;
  • 13.5 percent of Hispanics;
  • 12.1 percent of Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders;
  • 11.1 percent of persons reporting two or more races;
  • 8.4 percent of Blacks; and
  • 7.6 percent of Asians.

More information on Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations is available on the SAMHSA website.

More Youth Begin Drinking During Summer Months

Summer is a time when more youth and teens start drinking alcohol compared to other months of the year. Findings from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 11,000 youth ages 12–17 started using alcohol for the first time during June and July. In contrast, for most other months of the year, an average of between 5,000 and 8,000 youth a day started drinking alcohol for the first time.

Read more about monthly variations in substance use initiation among youth. Download and share this infographic with others to help spread the word about the risks of alcohol initiation among teens during the summer months.