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Drugs & Health Blog

Assert Your Independence: Say No to Alcohol This July 4th

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
Sara Bellum

For many Americans, celebrating the Fourth of July includes fireworks, parades, sparklers, and backyard picnics. Alongside the hotdogs and potato salad, though, usually sit bottles of beer.

Alcohol is often a part of our cultural celebrations. When someone gets married, we toast the happy couple with champagne. Many people binge drink on St. Patrick’s Day or Cinco de Mayo. Wherever someone is celebrating, chances are, alcohol is there.

Statistics show that the Fourth of July is no exception. Teens and adults alike can end up in unhealthy situations from celebrating with alcohol. During the holiday weekend of July 3–5, 2009, an average of 942 ER visits occurred per day related to alcohol use by people under age 21—two-thirds by young men, which is double the usual number for this group.

The Risks

When people see others around them drinking alcohol, it can seem like alcohol is harmless. NIDA’s Monitoring the Future study shows that in general, most 12th graders don’t see binge drinking on weekends as being very risky. The study also shows that such thinking makes drinking alcohol more likely.

In fact, alcohol is illegal for teens and can alter the developing brain. Further, drinking heavily can lower inhibitions and open the door to taking more risks—such as driving or riding with someone when you really shouldn’t be.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Fourth of July holiday period (July 2–6) is particularly deadly. During the 2010 holiday, 392 people were killed in car crashes, 39% involving a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, which qualifies as a DUI offense.

This Fourth of July, set the example for your friends: Opt for a cold lemonade, and stay safe.

Want More?

Check out these resources about alcohol and underage drinking:

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


"When people see others around them drinking alcohol, it can seem like alcohol is harmless." Is there research about the impact of parents' moderate drinking behavior on teenagers' attitude and beliefs about drinking? Thanks for the post. Hope everyone had a safe and fun holiday!

@Irene Parents' drinking behaviors and favorable attitudes about drinking have been associated with adolescents' starting and continuing to drink. However, research also shows a strong protective effect when parents discuss alcohol use with their kids and set clear expectations and boundaries. For example, a recent study shows that children whose parents are involved in their lives—holding regular conversations, attending after-school events, listening to their problems—are less likely to drink or smoke. In addition, what constitutes “moderate” drinking is a hard question to answer and is currently a major interest area needing more research. Visit the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s website for more information - and check out their brochure – “Make a Difference – Talk to Your Child about Alcohol” at

We are grateful to you thank you for the information.
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As a sober alcoholic, I am careful about how my spend my holidays and weekends. I do not shy away from places I would like to go because drinking will be join going on there, but I do not like to put myself in uncomfortable situations. I like to spend my time with sober people. If you hang out in the barber shop for too will eventually get a haircut! [commercial link removed, per guidelines]

somany people use alchol so how can we stop them