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Need Advice?

Send us your underage drinking–related questions, and we’ll post the answers here! (We will only post questions anonymously, and we will not keep your e-mail address. Please note that we may not be able to post all of the questions we receive).

My friends say that drinking alcohol is no big deal. Everybody is doing it, and I should, too. What should I do?

People try to get me to drink at parties. I don’t want to break the law or violate my parents’ trust, but I don’t want to look lame and like I don’t fit in. How can I do the right thing?

I feel that I am mature for my age. I have great grades and a part-time job. A drink here and there shouldn’t hurt, right? I can drink responsibly.

I’m shy and have a hard time making friends. The idea of going out on a date makes me nervous. Someone told me that a drink or two would give me more confidence and help me relax around others. Is this true?

I did something stupid when I was drinking with my friends recently. Now some of them treat me differently and aren’t as friendly as they used to be. What should I do?

Some friends of mine do things I know they don’t mean to do whenever they drink. I don’t want to get them in trouble or be a snitch. What can I do to help them?

Some adults in my family drink too much and act badly. They don’t think their drinking is a problem, but I do. Their drinking bothers me a lot. What can I do?


Advice: Is Drinking No Big Deal?

My friends say that drinking alcohol is no big deal. Everybody is doing it, and I should, too. What should I do?

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First, the great majority (75.7 percent) of 12- to 20-year-olds do not drink, and the percentage who do has been steadily decreasing for more than a decade.1

Second, underage drinking affects every organ in your body, including your developing brain. Alcohol use also is linked to several risky behaviors; various types of injuries; and deaths from homicide, suicide, and impaired driving.2

Remember, too, that underage drinking is illegal. If you are caught drinking, you could delay your chance of getting a driver’s license or lose the one you already have. You could also be barred from playing on an athletic team.

Learn about some of the myths and facts about drinking (PDF 1.26MB)


Advice: What’s Right?

People try to get me to drink at parties. I don’t want to break the law or violate my parents’ trust, but I don’t want to look lame and like I don’t fit in. How can I do the right thing?

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Make sure you know what the consequences will be if parents, police, and other adults find out that you have been drinking.

Learn more about peer pressure and how to resist it.


Advice: Why Should I Wait Until I Am of Legal Age To Drink?

I feel that I am mature for my age. I have great grades and a part-time job. A drink here and there shouldn’t hurt, right? I can drink responsibly.

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No matter how mature you feel, your body and brain are still developing. In fact, research shows that brain development continues well into a person’s twenties. Alcohol can affect this development and contribute to a range of problems.2


Advice: Will Alcohol Make Me Less Shy?

I’m shy and have a hard time making friends. The idea of going out on a date makes me nervous. Someone told me that a drink or two would give me more confidence and help me relax around others. Is this true?

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Some drinkers feel less shy and ill at ease with others temporarily. However, alcohol impairs judgment3 so that drinkers often do things they wouldn’t consider doing if sober. Their behavior can lead to embarrassment, regret, serious trouble, and even tragedy.

“Just about everybody feels shy sometimes,” says Dr. Colleen Sherman in an article on shyness SAMHSA Exit Disclaimer Page. If you’re looking for more information on shyness, healthfinder.gov is a good place to go when you want reliable information on any health topic. Just type “shy” or “shyness” into the Search box.

Talk with a parent or another adult you trust about your feelings. School counselors and nurses know where you can find help. So do ministers, priests, rabbis, and other faith leaders.

Before you try alcohol to change the way you feel, take a look at this game.


Advice: I Did Something Stupid. What Now?

I did something stupid when I was drinking with my friends recently. Now some of them treat me differently and aren’t as friendly as they used to be. What should I do?

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Perhaps you said or did something that was embarrassing or unkind or annoying. Friends will probably accept your apology and your sincere promise not to do anything like this again.

Maybe you broke something. You need to repair the damage, pay for someone else to fix it, or replace the item. And you should offer a sincere apology.

Doing “something stupid” under the influence of alcohol can also mean something much more serious, such as driving under the influence or having risky sex. Talk with your parent or another adult you trust and ask for help. Or call this 24-hour toll-free helpline: 1–800–662–HELP (1–800–662–4357).


Advice: How Can I Help My Friends?

Some friends of mine do things I know they don’t mean to do whenever they drink. I don’t want to get them in trouble or be a snitch. What can I do to help them?

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It isn’t snitching to get help for someone who may be in trouble because of drinking. About 4,700 underage drinkers die every year.4 A lot of them die in highway crashes. But many others die from alcohol poisoning or from trying to do something dangerous while they are impaired.

If you have a friend with a drinking problem, he or she is in trouble already and needs help before the problem worsens or leads to tragedy. Visit The Cool Spot’s list of resources or the Help a Friend SAMHSA Exit Disclaimer Page page on the Above the Influence website to make a difference in your friend’s life.


Advice: How Do I Handle Adults Who Drink Too Much?

Some adults in my family drink too much and act badly. They don’t think their drinking is a problem, but I do. Their drinking bothers me a lot. What can I do?

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Get the facts about alcoholism so you will understand that you are not the reason it’s going on and that you are not responsible for your family’s problems.

Find out how to be ready if and when the adult drinkers are willing to get the help they need.

Get more tips on what to do SAMHSA Exit Disclaimer Page if someone in your family has a drinking problem.

Alcoholism tends to run in families. If you are a member of a family with a history of alcohol problems, you need to avoid underage drinking. Children of alcoholics are two to four times more likely to become alcoholics themselves than children from families with no alcoholic adults. You need to be familiar with your family history and aware of your risks.5


Sources

1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2013). Results from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of national findings, NSDUH Series H-46, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 13-4795. Rockville, MD: Author.

2 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (n.d.). Underage drinking.

3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Alcohol and public health: Frequently asked questions.

4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI). Atlanta, GA: Author.

5 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2004). Children of alcoholics: A guide to community action. Rockville, MD: Author.