Youth and Alcohol
• July 2021 •
From Juan Navarro, Executive Director
Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Youth and Alcohol
Summer is finally here. After the long COVID-19 lockdown period, youth and young adults want to get out and have fun together more than ever before. But, beach trips, parties, vacations, and other fun activities often involve the use of alcohol – the most widely used substance of abuse among American youth. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that more youth use alcohol than tobacco, marijuana, or other drugs.
Underage drinking is common, often excessive, and it can start early. Of those who drink underage, 15% began using alcohol before they were 13 years old. For that reason, many young adults come to college with established drinking habits. In 2019, 53% of 12-to 20-year-olds reported past month alcohol use. Over 4 million reported past month binge drinking, and nearly 1 million reported past month heavy alcohol use. Of full-time college students, 33% reported binge drinking. For young adults ages 18-22 who were not enrolled full-time in college, 44% reported binge drinking.
In 2021, it’s important to understand that gender gaps in drinking are closing. From 2002 to 2013, rates of drinking by underage males exceeded that of underage females. From 2014 to 2017, underage females began drinking at rates similar to underage males. By 2019, of individuals who reported drinking in the last 30 days, rates of drinking by underage females exceeded that of underage males.
The consequences of drinking for underage youth and young adults can be very serious. They include increased risk for suicide, death from motor vehicle crashes, interpersonal violence (such as homicides, assaults, and rapes), unintentional injuries (such as burns, falls, and drownings), brain impairment, alcohol dependence, risky sexual activity, academic problems, and alcohol and drug poisoning.
This means we have to talk to the youth in our lives about alcohol use. Why not start by watching this short video with someone special? Youth and Alcohol
“My name is Jaime and I went to the program at L.A. CADA. People can’t believe it when I say I started drinking when I was eight, but it’s the truth. I took beers from my parent’s refrigerator in the garage. Plus, it was really easy to get it at family parties because no one was really paying attention. I would take a bunch of six-packs and hide them until I could party with my friends, You know why? Because it made me feel like me. I’m pretty shy, but not when I drink. Eventually, my parents let me quit high school and start working. But in construction, everyone drank a lot, so maybe that wasn’t the best place for me. Everything was cool until I passed out at work and got fired. Then, I drank more, I was depressed, so I drank more. Thank God for my grandmother. She took me in her car to see a counselor at L.A. CADA. I would never have done it on my own. Today, I have a year of sobriety and I’m back working. I brought two co-workers into A.A. so far. Telling people about the program is my new favorite thing.”
SPOTLIGHT – THE EVIDENCE IS IN:
Peer Recovery Support
Clean and sober youth are a powerful tool in recovery. They facilitate the process of giving and receiving non-clinical assistance for long-term recovery from substance use disorders. A peer recovery coach brings the lived experience of recovery (combined with training and supervision) to assist others in initiating and maintaining recovery.
Peer-based recovery supports are part of an emerging transformation of systems and services addressing substance use disorders. They’re essential ingredients in developing a recovery-oriented system of care in which clinical treatment plays an important, but singular, role. Often, acute care SUD treatment without other recovery supports has not been sufficient in helping individuals to maintain long-term recovery. Substance use disorders are understood to be chronic conditions that require long-term management, like diabetes. Peer-based recovery support provides a range of person-centered and strength-based supports for long-term recovery management. This includes emotional support (empathy and concern), informational support (connections to information and referrals to community resources that support health and wellness), instrumental support (concrete help such as housing or employment); and affiliational support (connections to recovery community supports, activities, and events). Together, peer supports help youth and young adults in recovery build recovery capital—the internal and external resources necessary to begin and maintain recovery.
Find out more about: Youth Peer Support