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Impact of Strict Social Host Laws on Underage Drinking

A 2014 study published Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found that strict social host laws may play an important role in lowering the prevalence of underage alcohol consumption at parties.

Social host laws prohibit adults from knowingly or unknowingly hosting an underage drinking party on property they own or otherwise control. Although laws vary by state, Responsibility.org supports laws that hold adults civilly and/or criminally liable through fines or even jail time.

According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among current underage drinkers, a majority (86%) had consumed alcohol in either their own or someone else’s home. Some parents think that allowing their own children to drink alcohol under their watch is a practical way to introduce teens to responsible drinking. Many also allow their children’s friends to drink. That’s a bad idea, since we know that adolescents who consume alcohol at an early age are six times more likely to experience alcohol problems as adults (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2017):

It is vitally important to talk to your children about underage drinking on your property or at a friend’s house.

  1. Demonstrate that you know and respect the minimum legal drinking age and social host law, and expect them to do the same.
  2. Do not allow underage drinking on your property and make sure your child knows this and understands why.
  3. Do research on your state and local laws – do you have social host laws? Are you aware of the consequences of allowing underage drinking on your property?
  4. Talk to your children’s friends’ parents. Do other families know about social host laws? Agree to not allow underage drinking in your homes or on your properties.

Visit Not in Our House to help teens, parents and communities have a conversation about underage drinking and social hosting.

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