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SAMHSA News - July/August 2007, Volume 15, Number 4

Summer Means More Underage Drinking

Radio PSAs Help Parents “Start Talking”

Young people across the country enjoy outdoor sports and family vacations when they’re on summer break. But, according to SAMHSA data, the summer months also show the highest occurrence of first-time alcohol use among young people.

That means June, July, and August pose challenges for parents, too.

At SAMHSA, an effort is underway to encourage parents to talk to their children about underage alcohol use before they take that first drink.

In collaboration with the Ad Council and the Office of the Surgeon General, SAMHSA is distributing new prevention public service announcements (PSAs) with the key message, “Start talking before they start drinking.”

What the Numbers Show

Adolescents use alcohol more often than tobacco or illicit drugs. And data from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) show that the highest occurrence of first-time alcohol use (13.1 percent) occurs during the month of July.

According to the same study, 10 percent of children age 12, and 50 percent of children age 15, have consumed alcohol. By the time young people graduate from high school (at age 18), 75 percent have had their first drink.

SAMHSA is working to support the Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking, a national effort to stop America’s 11 million underage drinkers from using alcohol and to keep other young people from starting. (See SAMHSA News online, March/April 2007).

The update is based on NSDUH data collected during 2004 and 2005.

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Radio PSAs

To help parents discuss the consequences of underage drinking with their teenagers and younger children, SAMHSA and the Ad Council recently distributed three new radio PSAs.

Available at the end of the school year, the PSAs encourage one-on-one family conversations by dramatizing actual parent-child interactions about the dangers of alcohol use. One dad says to his young son, “You’re still growing, you’re still developing. You may think you can handle it, but you’re not a grownup yet. It’s dangerous.”

For more information, or to listen to the PSAs, visit

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