Agencies unite to warn parents of teen alcohol risk

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LEWISTON – A majority of parents and teens said in a recent survey that it is generally easy for youth to get alcohol, and many times parents are hosting teen parties where alcohol is available.

The 2005 American Medical Association Survey on teenage drinking found that one in three teens report obtaining alcohol from their own parents knowingly, and 40 percent have been served alcohol by a friend’s parent.

Healthy Androscoggin Project Unite! is working in partnership with Lewiston, Auburn, Poland and Lisbon school departments, Juvenile Justice, Lewiston, Auburn and Lisbon police departments and local insurance agencies to launch the “Parents Who Host, Lose The Most: Don’t be a Party to Teenage Drinking” public awareness campaign.

The campaign informs parents and other adults about the legal ramifications and health and safety risks of serving alcohol to teens. Parents who knowingly allow a person under age 21 to remain on their property while consuming or possessing alcoholic beverages can be prosecuted and face jail sentences and fines.

Research shows that parents tend to underestimate underage drinking generally and their own children’s drinking in particular. In fact, 98 percent of parents believe that their child had not been drinking in the month before the 2004 Maine Youth Drug and Alcohol Use Survey took place. In reality, 38 percent of Maine students reported having a drink in the past 30 days.

According to the survey, 49 percent of Androscoggin County teens in grades six through 12 surveyed said that it is “very easy” for underage youth to get alcohol.

“In order to protect the health, safety and future of our youth, we must encourage parents and the community to take responsibility and give teens the clear message that there is no safe way at their age to drink alcohol,” said Vicky Wiegman, substance abuse counselor at Lewiston High School and Healthy Androscoggin Project Unite! community volunteer.

Healthy Androscoggin Project Unite! is a community initiative to prevent youth substance use by increasing awareness of how adult beliefs and behaviors have a direct impact on youth and changing policies and practices in the community that can affect youth access to alcohol and drugs.

For more information about the Parents Who Host, Lose the Most campaign, call 795-5990.

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