Why It’s Important

Why It's Important to Talk to Your Students about Alcohol

Parents are the leading influence in a kids decision to drink or not to drink, yet they are not the only line of defense against underage drinking.

Teachers play a crucial role in guiding students in both their academic and social growth. Encouraging words from a teacher will boost confidence which can embolden youth to stand up for what they believe and be true leaders among their peers. Teachers, school counselors, and even school administrators encourage kids to excel in the classroom and should remind kids not to drink alcohol underage.

Early drinking is a risk factor for alcohol use disorders. Adults who had taken their first drink of alcohol before the age of 15 were 6.5 times more likely to experience an alcohol use disorder than those who didn’t start drinking before age 21. (SAMHSA, 2017 NSDUH).

We encourage teachers to utilize the resource the Ask, Listen, Learn program provides in your classroom to start discussions around the importance of saying “NO” to underage drinking.

The Facts

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According to the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report, about 5.8 million Americans between the ages of 12 and 20 report current alcohol consumption; this represents 15% of this age group for whom alcohol consumption is illegal.

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55% of kids believe they will be faced with a decision regarding drinking or not drinking alcohol within the next year (APCO Insights for Responsibility.org Parent & Child Survey, 2023)

According to the 2022 Monitoring the Future study, alcohol consumption among America’s teens is holding steady at or below pre-pandemic prevalence rates. Lifetime, annual, current, and binge drinking prevalence rates showed little or no change from 2020 to 2022, after unprecedented declines in 2021, among students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades, but all rates are significantly lower than peak years. For the three grades combined (8th, 10th, and 12th) the proportion of students reporting lifetime, annual, current (past 30-days), and binge drinking (41 percent, 32 percent, 16 percent, and almost 7 percent, respectively) were below pre-pandemic levels.


Tweens are undergoing many emotional and physical changes, and they’re fascinated by how their bodies and minds operate. Give your students plenty of information about how alcohol affects them physiologically.

  • Physically, alcohol affects many of the body’s organs and systems. It can irritate the stomach lining, make people lose their balance, throw up, and become unable to focus or speak clearly.
  • In rare circumstances an overdose — known as alcohol poisoning — can kill.
  • Emotionally, it can make young people stressed, angry, and violent.
  • Mentally, it can interfere with normal brain development.
  • It affects learning and memory, slows reactions, and often makes kids lose interest in getting good grades and staying in school.
  • In other cases, usually in larger amounts, it can act as a depressant, potentially leading to sleep, comas, and even death.
  • In some situations alcohol reduces inhibitions, leading to a wide range of risky situations.
  • Drinking too much over a long period of time can damage major organs, including the liver, pancreas, kidneys, and bone marrow.
> Read Next The Teacher’s Role

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