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Teens sitting together.

Twelve Talks to
Have With Teens


Teens in Jefferson County report:

  • Alcohol use leads to problems and trauma for young people.

  • Legal consequences for those who purchase for those who are under 21:

    • Class 2 misdemeanor for providing alcohol to a minor​

    • Class 4 felony for contributing to the delinquency of a minor

  • However, when adults provide alcohol to minors, they are directly contributing to devastating consequences of alcohol misuse reported by Jeffco teens, including:

    • Damage to developing brains

    • Blackout drinking and alcohol poisoning​

    • Sexual assault

    • Violence

    • Legal or academic consequences for the teens

    • Addiction

What can we do?

  • Make sure adults understand the harms caused by purchasing alcohol for those under 21.

  • Change the perception that it’s okay to help teens drink-- and instead, move adults in our community toward a belief that teens shouldn’t be provided alcohol.

  • Work together to show that parents, schools, public health law enforcement, AND alcohol retailers all agree: we do not want alcohol getting to those under age 21.

  • And... talk to teenagers in your life about alcohol use for themselves and their friends. See Talk to Your Teen about Alcohol page for ideas for starting these conversations.

Local Data

2019 data shows that among Jeffco 12th graders:

  • 67.3% say getting alcohol is somewhat easy or very easy.

  • 28.4% report that parents or guardians don’t think drinking is harmful.

  • 68.3% of those who drank, drank 3 or more drinks in a row.

  • Most alcohol is purchased for teens by either a parent or someone else in the household-- or by someone they know who is old enough to buy.

2020 Jefferson County Youth Town Hall surveys recorded that:

  • 10 in 10 youth report that youth commonly drink in homes in groups of 5 or more

  • Additionally, 7 in 10 say that youth are drinking at home alone

  • 9 in 10 report that youth steal alcohol from home, while 8 in 10 say alcohol is provided by someone at home

  • 9 in 10 also report alcohol is available from someone who will buy it for them

More information

  • Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance among youths, contributing to the death of over 4,300 young people each year in the United States.

  • Youth alcohol use isn’t an acceptable “rite of passage,” and it can pose serious risks to young people. During adolescence, the brain undergoes crucial development, and can be very sensitive to the effects of alcohol. Research shows that underage alcohol use can negatively impact brain functions including memory, balance, motor coordination and decision-making. Research shows that alcohol use can cause long-term consequences for the developing brain.

  • Jefferson County youth report that when they drink, they usually drink "to get drunk." 

  • According to the researchers, youth alcohol use can contribute to a variety of serious problems including:

    • Increased likelihood of risky sexual behavior

    • Increased risk of physical and sexual assault

    • Increased risk of memory problems

  • Alcohol is the most common "date rape" drug. Jefferson County youth report that sexual assaults almost always involve alcohol (2018 & 2019 Youth Town Hall).

  • In Jefferson County, youth report three main sources of alcohol: taking it without permission from home, buying it off someone old enough to purchase it and being given alcohol by a parent or guardian (2018 & 2019 Youth Town Hall).

  • Jefferson County youth report that drinking most often occurs in people's homes with "chill" parents or when parents/guardians are out of town. When asked what "really happens" at parties, youth report binge drinking, use of multiple types of drugs, rape and fights as common occurrences (2018 Youth Town Hall).

  • Preventing Teen Drug Use: Risk Factors and Why Kids Use: This resource from Partnership for Drug-Free Kids outlines many of the reasons why teenagers may use alcohol and other substances.

  • Tackling the Rise in Teen Binge Drinking: This article on describes how the teen brain is changed due to binge drinking.



County Healthy Rankings Social Hosting 

US DHHS SG-Addiction 2016 - US Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS), Office of the Surgeon General. Facing addiction in America: The Surgeon General's report on alcohol, drugs, and health. Washington, DC: DHHS, November 2016. 

Wagoner 2012* - Wagoner KG, Francisco VT, Sparks M, et al. A review of social host policies focused on underage drinking parties: Suggestions for future research. Journal of Drug Education. 2012;42(1):99-117. 

Wagoner 2013* - Wagoner KG, Sparks M, Francisco VT, et al. Social host policies and underage drinking parties. Substance Use & Misuse. 2013;48(1-2):41-53. 

Paschall 2014* - Paschall MJ, Lipperman-Kreda S, Grube JW, Thomas S. Relationships between social host laws and underage drinking: Findings from a study of 50 California cities. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 2014;75(6):901-907. 

Jefferson County Data, including 2019 Healthy Kids Colorado and Jeffco CTC Youth Town Hall findings

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