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

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Three friends eating outside

With the Fourth of July coming up, SBB wants to remind teens about the dangers of binge drinking. Check out this post, originally published July 3, 2012.

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. Each day of the holiday weekend of July 3–5, 2009, an average of 942 ER visits occurred 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 [PDF‒2.25 MB] 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 Fourth of July holidays from 2007 to 2011, 780 people were killed in car crashes 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.

Check out these resources about alcohol and underage drinking:

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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