Who’s supplying teen drinkers in Washington state?

Mar 29, 2010, 1:02 PM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

More than a quarter of young people between the ages of 12 and 20 drank alcohol in the past month, and a lot of them got the booze from parents or other adults.

That’s according to a survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Their survey is timed with the launch today of a big social media campaign to encourage parents to talk to their children, at an early age, about drinking alcohol.

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I have talked with my teen about drinking and the pressures she might face. But my image of teens getting a bottle of alcohol or some beer and sneaking it past their parents isn’t as shocking as the reality I faced a couple of weeks ago. At a party to celebrate a successful musical production, students – between 14 and 18 – were doing Jello shots and “getting super drunk.”

“Where were the parents while this was happening?” I asked my daughter.

“They were there,” she says. “They didn’t try to stop anybody from drinking.”


I wanted to get on the phone instantly and ask the parents, “What are you thinking?” But, I didn’t. I don’t know the parents, and my teen didn’t drink. Still, I think I should have said something. What would you do?

Alcohol is the most widely abused substance among teens. In Washington state, about 30 percent of young adults say they had alcohol in the past month. Less than six percent of those who drank purchased the alcohol. Most reported it was given to them, or easily accessible at their parents’ houses.

According to the new study, North Dakota and Vermont have the highest underage drinking use at about 40 percent. Utah’s rate was the lowest around 13 percent.

Here’s the online campaign starting up to help parents talk to teens about drinking, and the TV ads which all carry the tag line that “real kids are curious about alcohol.”

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Who’s supplying teen drinkers in Washington state?