Substance Use Disorders

Alcohol is the leading drug of choice for Youth


  • 46% of New Jersey's 7th and 8th graders have used alcohol.
  • 4 out of 5 (80%) of New Jersey's high school students have used alcohol in their lifetime. 56% have used alcohol in the past 30 days.
  • Alcohol kills more teenagers than all other drugs combined. It is a factor in the three leading causes of death among 15 to 24-year-olds: accidents, homicides and suicides.
  • Alcohol can impede teens’ growth. Heavy drinking in teens has been shown to interfere with muscle and bone development.
  • Recent brain imaging studies in teens and young adults who drank heavily have shown shrinkage in the area of the brain that is responsible for memory and learning. The brain doesn't finish developing until around 21 years old.
  • A drink is a drink. A 5-ounce glass of wine has as much alcohol as a 12-ounce glass of beer or a 1.5-ounce shot of whiskey

Alcohol is illegal for anyone under 21 years of age.


Parents play a crucial role in discouraging their children from beginning to use alcohol.

Parents: Chances are that your child might experiment with alcohol or will associate with many who have. Peer pressure is very powerful. Discuss your personal beliefs with your child. Sharing your values and family history around alcohol will create an environment of trust and understanding.

As parents, you are the first line of defense when it comes to your child's drinking.


For more information, visit the Stop Underage Drinking website to view the pamphlet "Start Talking Before They Start Drinking" as well as other resources for parents. 


  • Set rules and expectations and enforce consequences! Let your child know that underage drinking is unacceptable in your family. Enforce consequences when family rules are broken, but be fair.
  • Know where your teens are and what they will be doing during unsupervised time. Don't be afraid to check up on them. If your teen thinks you might drop by at any time, they are less likely to risk getting caught doing something they shouldn't be doing.
  • Talk to your child. Casually ask how things are going at school, with friends, and his plans for the future.
  • Keep your teens busy, especially between 3 pm to 6 pm and into the evening hours. Teens who are involved in constructive, adult-supervised activities are less likely to use alcohol than other teens.
  • Take time to learn the facts about underage drinking and talk to your teen about the harmful effects on young people.
  • Get to know your child's friends and their parents. Make sure you know their rules and standards.
  • Accept the role of a parent as your major responsibility. Children do not need you to be their friend, let others be their friend. You be the parent.
  • Don't accept underage drinking as a rite of passage. If you don't think it is a big deal, what will your kids think?
  • Teach by example! You are your child's role model. Don't show your child that it takes a drink to relax or decrease stress. Children learn what you teach them, so pick your lessons carefully!