It’s the season for holiday parties. Whether hosting a party or attending as a guest, Drug Free Collier has a few party planning tips to help make this a season to remember. In all the hustle and bustle of party planning, gift shopping and decorating, it’s important to keep our children safe. Holiday parties should not expose children to increased drug and alcohol use.
For adults, holiday parties often include alcohol and casual drinking. Hosts of social gatherings where alcohol is involved are reminded of their responsibility for keeping their guests safe, especially minors. “Don’t take the jolly out of this season by providing alcohol to minors,” said Melanie Black, Executive Director of Drug Free Collier.
“Underage drinking is not only against the law, it creates real health risks,” Black said. The age limit is based on scientific research on the impact of alcohol on brain development, which continues well into the mid-20s, she added.
Alcohol remains the most commonly abused substance among teens. Almost two out of five high school students in Florida report alcohol consumption in the past 30-days, and almost 19 percent said they have blacked out from too much drinking, according to the 2014 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey. Ten years ago, that number was much higher, with almost half of all high school students in Florida drinking.
Today, when compared to data from 2004, fewer teens are drinking alcohol thanks to collaborative efforts from key partners; greater involvement from parents; and increased community awareness. While we celebrate this success, we know there’s still plenty of work to do.
Drug Free Collier’s school-based prevention clubs known as the CORE Society recently partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to encourage teens to pass on alcohol until 21. Hundreds of local students participated by posting selfies on their social media with MADD’s #ProtectUrSelfie pledge card, promising to not drink alcohol before age 21 or use other drugs because it is illegal and dangerous.
We can help our teens keep this promise during the holidays and throughout the year, by adopting these simple, but important party-planning suggestions:
- Control access to alcohol you provide
- Do not allow underage youth to drink alcoholic beverages
- Offer food and plenty of non-alcoholic drinks
- Plan entertainment and other activities so that drinking alcohol is not the primary focus of the party
- Monitor all areas of the house/property or limit the party access to a certain area.
- Secure all prescription & over-the-counter medication. Unsecured bottles in a bathroom medicine cabinet can be a source of abuse.
- Keep all firearms and other potentially hazardous items in a safe place.
- Model appropriate behavior for your guests and children.
- Make sure visibly intoxicated guests are not left alone. Even if they’re not driving, impaired guests can be injured or injure others.
- Provide alternate transportation for impaired guests.
- Enlist others to help chaperone and monitor your party
Planning a safe holiday party with these tips in mind can be the best gift you offer your guests.
On behalf of Drug Free Collier, we wish you and your loved ones a happy, healthy and joyous holiday season.
Drug Free Collier is a coalition of concerned citizens working to protect children from substance abuse. To learn more about our local efforts, visit www.DrugFreeCollier.org or call 239.377.0535.