"It's Time to Talk" - Tips for Discussing Underage Drinking

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration lauched a media campaign to help parents discuss the issue of underage drinking with their children.

"Talk. They Hear You." was created by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention to reduce underage drinking in youth aged 9 to 15 by providing parents and caregivers with information and resources they need to start addressing the issue of alcohol with their children early. The Campaign focuses on:

Increasing parents’ awareness of the prevalence and risk of underage drinking;
Equipping parents with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to prevent underage drinking; and
Increasing actions by parents to prevent underage drinking.

Implications of Underage Drinking

Underage drinking is a national public health issue with serious implications. According to a study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 10 million people under the age of 21 drank alcohol in the past month in the United States. However, many young people start drinking before the age of 15.  The age range between 11 and 18 is an impressionable period when youth are especially susceptible to outside influences such as peers, family members, and the media.

Underage drinking has severe consequences, many of which parents may not be fully aware. Consequences may include: injury or death from accidents; unintended, unwanted, and unprotected sexual activity; academic problems; and drug use.

Why Is This Campaign for Parents and Caregivers?

Studies have shown that parents have a significant influence on young people’s decisions about alcohol consumption,10 especially when parents create supportive and nurturing environments in which their children can make their own decisions. When parents know about underage alcohol use, they can protect their children from many of the high-risk behaviors associated with it. Furthermore, parents who do not discourage underage drinking may have an indirect influence on young people’s alcohol use.


Campaign Materials



Fact Sheet


Talking Points




Why Talk to Your 9 to 15 Year-Old About Drinking?


Why Kids Start Drinking


What You Can Do to Help Prevent Underage Drinking


Warning Signs of a Drinking Problem and How to Find Help


Underage Drinking Has Serious Consequences


Learn to Answer the Tough Questions


Underage Drinking Prevention Text Message Scripts for Parents