Underage DrinKing Prevention

Prevent youth and young adults, ages 12-24 from underage and binge drinking. 

 Our vision is to empower the community with knowledge about the risks and dangers of youth alcohol consumption, while fostering the development of skills, policies, and practices that create protective environments. Through these efforts, we aim to enable young people to make healthy and positive choices for their future.

Conversation Starter Cards 

We are proud to introduce our newly developed conversation starter cards, created through a collaborative effort with our coalition. These cards are specifically designed to help parents and caregivers initiate important discussions with children about substance misuse prevention. Each card features carefully crafted prompts and questions that encourage open, honest conversations about the risks and consequences of substance use. By using these cards, parents and caregivers can create a supportive environment where children feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and concerns. This initiative underscores our commitment to equipping families with the necessary tools to prevent substance misuse and promote healthy, informed decision-making among children.

Did you know? 

Parent Alert: Alcopops

Some of these drinks contain almost as much alcohol in one container as 4 or 5 beers. These alcoholic beverages appeal to young drinkers because they are very sweet and cheap to purchase. They are marketed to youth and are sold most often at convenience stores. 

It is estimated that in 2011 - more than 5,500 ER visits were because of alcopops and children as young as 13 were injured. Reports from first-time young or underage drinkers said that they vomited or blacked out after drinking less than 1 container of the products. 

3 ways for parents to talk to youth about Underage and Binge Drinking:

Why: Alcohol is the most widely available drug to youth. It is also one of the first drugs to be used at a young age. Alcohol use damages the developing brain, and intoxication can lead to accidents or overdose. Young people deserve the best chance at a healthy, substance-free life. Waiting until at least 21 is the best way to achieve that. 

Tennessee Underage Consumption Laws

Across the United States, the legal age for drinking alcohol is 21 years old, and anyone who consumes alcohol under that age is committing an illegal act. Tennessee takes accusations of underage drinking very seriously, and conviction for underage consumption can stay on a person’s criminal record for life. 

What is Underage Consumption?

Under Tennessee law, a person is guilty of underage consumption if a prosecutor can prove that the person accused is under the age of 21 years old and consuming intoxicating liquor or beer. Conviction for underage consumption can result in a Class A misdemeanor on a person’s criminal record, a jail term up to 11 months and 29 days, and fines up to $2,500 in addition to other court costs and fees. The judge may also order penalties such as community service, alcohol education programs, rehabilitation treatment, and more. This type of offense can be difficult to erase from a criminal record, meaning that it will show up on every background check for school, jobs, and housing.

Other Tennessee Underage Drinking Laws

Underage consumption is not the only law associated with drinking alcohol underage. Depending on the circumstances of the case, a person can also be arrested and charged with the following:

UNDERAGE Drinking: Myths vs. Facts

Even if they are aware of the consequences, some Tennessee parents may still offer their children alcohol because they’re unaware of the risks of underage drinking. Here are some myths you may believe, along with the realities about what could happen when adults offer alcohol to young adults.  

Myth: “If my kids are going to experiment with alcohol anyway, I’d rather they try it at home where I can keep an eye on them.” 

Fact: Even under controlled conditions, underage drinking can still get out of hand quickly. There have been many instances of young adults getting alcohol poisoning at “supervised” house parties. Property damage, injuries and aggressive behavior can be other unintended consequences of allowing minors with poor impulse control to drink in your home.  

Myth: I can teach my children to drink responsibly by letting them have alcohol under my supervision.

Fact: There is no way to “teach” anyone to use alcohol or drugs responsibly. Adolescent alcohol use is one of the strongest predictors of teen violence, academic problems, truancy, unprotected sexual activity, sexual assault and other illicit drug use. Teens who drink are also at a higher risk for developing mental and behavioral health problems like depression and substance abuse as adults, especially if those issues run in your family. 

Myth: “If I’m too strict about underage drinking, it’ll make my child more likely to rebel at the first opportunity.”

Fact: If you are too lenient about alcohol, you may send the implied message that drinking isn’t dangerous. Your child could then go on to experiment with other substances, thus increasing the risk of adolescent addiction. Set consistent rules around alcohol use, and model them yourself. 

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