OJJDP Launches Publication Series on Underage Drinking

A photo of a young woman drinking alcohol.
Underage drinking is a widespread problem that can have serious social consequences. Youth who drink are more likely to abuse and become dependent on alcohol, to cause traffic injuries and fatalities, and to commit aggravated assault, property theft, and murder. According to one study, the direct costs of underage drinking incurred because of medical care and loss of work in the United States amount to $22.3 billion each year. Through its Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws program (EUDL program), for many years OJJDP has worked to eliminate access to and consumption of alcohol by minors, and has worked to guide communities in developing prevention and treatment programs. OJJDP has administered the EUDL program since Congress created the initiative in 1998.

At OJJDP's National EUDL Leadership Conference, which took place on August 10–12, 2011, the Office launched a new publication series, Underage Drinking, to educate practitioners and policymakers about the problems youth face when they abuse alcohol and to provide evidence-based guidelines for addressing the issue. The first bulletin in the series, Reducing Drinking Among Underage Air Force Members in Five Communities, presents findings from an evaluation of OJJDP's EUDL demonstration program in five communities that partnered with local Air Force bases. The study discussed in this bulletin compared the rates of problem drinking in each of the EUDL communities to five control communities and the Air Force's program, Culture of Responsible Choices. Following are some of the study's key findings:

  • Although all sites showed some success, sites with the best results implemented their interventions early, had task forces on underage drinking at the program's onset, collaborated with local partners, and followed guidance from the federal agencies.
  • The two Arizona communities that implemented the EUDL initiative following the practices cited above saw the highest reductions in junior enlisted members at risk for problem drinking relative to the other demonstration sites.
  • EUDL communities located in urban areas had greater success finding alternative activities to drinking than communities in rural areas.
  • The percentage of Air Force enlisted personnel at risk for a drinking problem decreased by 6.6 percent from 2006 to 2008.

To order a printed copy of Reducing Drinking Among Underage Air Force Members in Five Communities, see the New Publications section in this issue.

Topics to be covered in subsequent bulletins include the effects and consequences of underage drinking, best practices for community supervision of underage drinkers, legal issues surrounding underage drinking, and practice guidelines for working with underage drinkers. It is hoped that the information provided in these publications will support communities in their efforts to reduce access to and consumption of alcohol by minors through the use of evidence-based strategies and practices.

Resources:

For more information on OJJDP's EUDL program, read the Office's In Focus fact sheet, Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Program, and visit the OJJDP and Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center Web sites.