Office of Children’s Mental Health says prevention of underage drinking takes community involvement

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 5:27 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2022 at 5:59 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Office of Children’s Mental Health Director Linda Hall said Friday it takes all of us to work together to prevent underage drinking.

While underage drinking has decreased in Wisconsin over the years, youth in Wisconsin are still drinking more than youth in other states.

Underage drinking leads to increased likelihood of risky sexual behaviors, acts of violence, trouble in school and with the law, health officials noted. It can also lead to increased likelihood of making current or emerging symptoms of depression and anxiety worse, according to the Office of Children’s Mental Health.

New data from the CDC show a 25% increase in deaths of Wisconsinites directly linked to excessive alcohol use. These data are not limited to youth, but it is important to recognize how youth are affected by these deaths.

The Office of Children’s Mental Health said youth in Wisconsin normalize drinking more than youth in all 49 other states. A 2018 study showed that only 36% of kids age 12-17 thought it was risky to have five or more drinks once or twice a week.

Additionally, 90% of youth alcohol intake is done in the form of binge drinking.

Widespread community involvement is necessary to prevent underage drinking, with strategies including making alcohol less available, attractive, affordable and acceptable.

The Office of Children’s Mental Health also said parents can have small, casual conversations with their kids to help them make healthier decisions about alcohol.

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