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Parents: Talk to Your Kids About the Dangers of Underage Drinking and Fake IDs -- Urges Michigan Liquor Control Commission

Media Contact: LARA Communications (517-335-LARA (5272))

September 15, 2020.  With students starting their college academic year either on campus or online, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission today urges parents to talk with their kids about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking and use of fake IDs to obtain alcohol.  Parents have the most influence when it comes to whether or not their student will drink alcohol.

“As many parents send their young adults off to college, I urge parents to talk to their kids about how underage drinking and use of fake IDs are risky, dangerous and poor choices that can have lifelong consequences,” said MLCC Chair Pat Gagliardi.  “Especially now with COVID-19, all students must think twice about attending social gatherings, especially those that involve alcohol, whether it’s inside or outside, these gatherings have been found to be super spreaders of the virus.  When alcohol is involved, inhibitions are relaxed and good judgment is compromised when it comes to social distancing and wearing masks – that we all must do to stop the spread of coronavirus.” 

Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States as those aged 12-20 drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed. Additionally, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers.

According to Michigan’s alcohol epidemiologist, Patrick Hindman, of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, although alcohol use among youth in Michigan is trending down since the late 1990s, it remains above 25 percent.

“Young people in Michigan are still drinking in excess with White and Hispanic youths the highest at 28 and 26 percent, respectively. There has also been a concerning increase in binge drinking among underage females in Michigan.  Finally, it’s important to remember that any drinking by those under 21 years is considered excessive,” Hindman said.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the first six weeks of freshman year are a vulnerable time for harmful and underage college drinking and for alcohol-related consequences because of student expectations and social pressures at the start of the academic year. The problem of underage drinking can intensify with unstructured time, widespread availability of alcohol, inconsistent enforcement of underage drinking laws, additional stress and uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, and limited interactions with parents and other adults. 

Parents have a powerful influence with their kids. Research shows that students who abstain from drinking often do so because their parents discussed alcohol use and its adverse consequences with them. Parents can help reduce underage drinking in several ways:

  • Discuss reasons not to drink, including the legal and physical risks of alcohol and underage drinking: DUI arrest, alcohol overdose, violence, unsafe sexual behavior, unintentional injuries, academic failure, and other adverse consequences.
  • Emphasize that no matter how easily available alcohol is, underage drinking represents a risk and a bad choice that has long-term, serious consequences.
  • Reinforce ways of knowing how and when to say “no” to alcohol.
  • Talk about the risks of obtaining fake ID to buy alcohol: fine or arrest; identity theft -- for fraudulent purposes that could result in criminal activity impacting a student’s credit, scholarship, obtaining employment. 
  • Keep the lines of communication open and reach out regularly via text or phone.
  • Stay alert for possible alcohol-related problems.
  • Learn about the school's alcohol prevention and emergency intervention efforts.
  • Ensure your student knows the signs of alcohol overdose or an alcohol-related problem, and how to help.
  • Emphasize that drinking alcohol is never the way to deal with stress, problems or to feel socially acceptable.

The MLCC’s high priority areas of enforcement to protect public health and safety includes upholding Michigan law that prohibits the sale of alcohol to minors.

“We are committed to working closely with bar and restaurant owners and retailer licensees to ensure they are doing all they can to refuse to serve alcohol to minors,” said MLCC Commissioner Geralyn Lasher.  

In 2019, more than 2,100 businesses holding a liquor license in Michigan passed controlled buys as reported by the MLCC in partnership with local law enforcement agencies to reduce illegal liquor sales to minors and thwart underage drinking. This represents an 82 percent compliance rate among licensees checked and documented for not selling alcohol to minors.

“Most importantly, we need parents to talk early and often to their kids about the dangers of alcohol,” said MLCC Commissioner Dennis Olshove. “Parents must emphasize that they absolutely do not approve of underage drinking.”

Resources for Parents: College Drinking -- Changing the Culture: How to talk to kids about alcohol: MADD –Mothers Against Drunk Driving: The Power of Parents Center for Disease Control & Prevention:  Underage Drinking Fact Sheet

It is the mission of the MLCC to make alcoholic beverages available for consumption while protecting the consumer and the general public through the regulation of those involved in the importation, sale, consumption, distribution, and delivery of these alcohol products.

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