Alcohol

Each April, communities across the country participate in Alcohol Awareness Month activities to educate teens, parents and community members about the dangers of alcoholism and issues related to alcohol. 

Fast Facts

Tips for Teens

Tips for Parents /Caring Adults

Understanding and Responding to Peer Pressure

Seeking Help

Legal Consequences

Additional Resources



Fast Facts

Tips for Teens

Tips for Parents /Caring Adults

  • Modeling healthy coping mechanisms is one crucial way parents and caring adults can help prevent youth substance use and abuse in our community. If adults model that substances are needed to relieve stress, or used as a coping mechanism, it can send the wrong message to youth.
  • Even though it might not seem like it, children and teens really do hear you when you talk to them about alcohol. Talk early and often about the dangers of underage drinking and other substances. 

  • Look for and take opportunities to raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol and other substances by having conversations about healthy decision-making and avoiding risky behaviors, with a focus on understanding and responding to peer pressure. 
  • Even though it may not seem like it, children and teens really do hear you when you talk to them about alcohol. By preparing and practicing for these scenarios, parents and caring adults can equip children and teens to make healthy decisions for their health and future.
  • Be prepared for questions, but do not assume youth are engaging in risky behaviors based on what they ask questions.
  • Take time to try to find out what youth are really asking - do they want advice or a listening ear? One way to determine if you are on the same page is by checking for understanding and asking “What I heard you say was ___. Is this correct?”
  • Use this year’s Red Ribbon Week theme (Be Happy. Be Brave. Be Drug Free.) as a way to talk to your teens about what they are feeling and how now more than ever it’s important to stay drug free.
  • Talk with your teens about what they can do if they are offered alcohol or other drugs and help your teen practice resisting peer pressure.  
  • Additional tips for addressing tough topics:

    • Use teachable moments
    • Communicate about your feelings and values
    • Share a story and ask your child what they think
    • Be honest about your concerns
  • Check out these guides for more tips on how to address underage drinking:

Understanding and Responding to Peer Pressure 

What is peer pressure?
Peer pressure is the feeling that someone your own age is pushing you toward making a certain choice, good or bad. Peer pressure can take place in many settings, including online.There are various times of peer pressure, such as:

  • Put-down/Spoken: Insulting or calling a person names
  • Unspoken: Something you feel without anyone saying anything to you
  • Rejection: Threatening to end a friendship or relationship
  • Reasoning: Telling a person reasons why they should try something or why it would be OK

Why does peer pressure work?
We all respond to peer pressure differently and sometimes it can be difficult to resist. Some reasons that teens may feel unable to resist peer pressure include that they are:

  • Afraid of being rejected by others
  • Want to be liked 
  • Do not want to lose a friend 
  • Want to appear grown up
  • Do not want to be made fun of
  • Do not want to hurt someone’s feelings
  • Are not sure how to respond
  • Are not sure what they really want
  • Do not know how to get out of the situation

Tips for Resisting Peer Pressure

  • Stand up straight
  • Make eye contact
  • Say how you feel
  • Stick up for yourself
  • Focus on your behavior and response
  • Avoid being judgmental and putting down choices that others make.
  • Honor your value system. 
  • Be confident
  • Remember, “no” is a full sentence   

Seeking Help

Adult Substance Use & Mental Health Treatment

  • Emergency Services: 703.746.3401 (24/7)
  • Adult Intake: 703.746.3535
  • Alexandria Residential Treatment Center (Short-term treatment for individuals with substance use disorders): 703.746.3636 (24/7)

Resources for Teens

  • Child and Family Behavioral Health Services (For children with mental health or substance use challenges):
    • 571.213.7963
    • Email: DCHSYouthIntake@alexandriava.gov 

Legal Consequences

It is a Class 1 misdemeanor for anyone under 21 to buy, consume, or possess any alcohol beverage. Penalties upon conviction include:

  • Mandatory minimum fine of $500 (up to $2,500) or a minimum of 50 hours of community service
  • Loss of driver’s license for 6 to 12 months
  • Up to 12 months in jail
  • Possible expulsion from school if caught on school property and/or possible loss of participation in all after school activities
  • The additional penalty for driving after illegally consuming alcohol is mandatory loss of a driver’s license for one year or a delay in obtaining a first license.
  • For use of a fake ID to purchase an alcoholic beverage, the additional penalty is loss of a driver’s license for up to one year.

It is a Class 1 misdemeanor for adults to provide alcoholic beverages to any person under the age of 21. Penalties upon conviction include: Anyone over 21:

  • A $2,500 fine per young person provided any alcoholic beverage
  • Loss of the adult’s driver’s license for up to one year and/or one year in jail

Additional Resources

PWH1

PWH2

Stop Underage Drinking