Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Rick Scott

David E. Wilkins

May 21, 2012
MEDIA CONTACT: Erin Gillespie,
Press Secretary,
(850) 717-4450
DCF Communications
~ Alcohol kills more teens every year than all illegal drugs combined ~

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. – Memorial Day weekend is coming up and many Floridians will take this opportunity to relax with family and enjoy their time together with parties that may or may not include alcohol.

During National Substance Abuse Prevention Week, the Florida Department of Children and Families wants to remind parents that drinking is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 and encourage them to talk with their children about the risks of underage drinking.

Alcohol kills more teens than all illegal drugs combined, but alcohol can seem so common that many parents forget how risky drinking is for young people. Research shows that parents are the most important influence on whether teens choose to drink alcohol.

"As a father of two teenage daughters, I know parents do make a difference," said Rob Siedlecki, Assistant Secretary for Substance Abuse and Mental Health. "All parents should take the time to sit down with their children and have a supportive, thought-provoking discussion about why drinking alcohol is dangerous and unacceptable."

Parents should take the time to talk to teens about the risks of alcohol and what the consequences could be. In Florida, teens caught drinking will automatically lose their drive's license.

Because teens are still developing, they take more risks with alcohol and may act impulsively, which could lead to injuries or even death. In addition, kids who drink alcohol before age 21 are more likely to face problems in schools, abuse alcohol later in life, get assaulted, or even die in a car crash or some other accident like drowning.

Teens should know that not everyone thinks drinking is cool. The 2011 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey showed a decline in the number of middle and high school students who were drinking alcohol.

Sadly, studies show that parents are the most common supplier of alcohol to teen drinkers. This is a crime, and parents can be prosecuted, especially if an injury or death occurs.

Parents can get more information about the risks of underage drinking and tips on how to talk to their teens through the Mother’s Against Drug Driving Parent Handbook.

In addition, during National Substance Abuse Prevention Week, DCF will be featuring stories and tips on how to prevent underage drinking through our Twitter account, Facebook page and blog, where we will feature a story from a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit physician and another from a mother who lost a son to suicide.

Note: Included below is a video PSA featuring social media that encourages teens to avoid drinking, as well as this radio PSA with information about how parents can talk to their teens about underage drinking.