Did You know?

  • Kids who start drinking young are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol-related crash.
  • Before age 9, children generally view alcohol negatively and see drinking as bad, with adverse effects. Research shows that by about age 13, their expectancies shift, becoming more positive which can lead to increased risks and consequences of underage drinking.
  • The sooner you talk to your children about alcohol and other drugs, the greater chance you have of influencing their decisions about drinking and substance use.

At MADD we understand that the onset of underage drinking happens on average before children enter middle school. In addition, early alcohol use leads to a myriad of problems later in life but particularly affects the child’s developing brain with far reaching consequences. Research shows the earlier kids start to drink, the greater the chances they will later drive drunk or develop an alcohol use disorder.

Alcohol is the most commonly used drug among America’s youth, which kills 4,300 teens a year. If we wait until kids are in middle school to begin the conversations about alcohol with them, we have waited too late.

MADD’s Power of Me! Program is a classroom- or auditorium-based alcohol use prevention and vehicle safety presentation for 4th and 5th grade elementary school students. Adapted from MADD’s evaluated, evidence-based Protecting You Protecting Me program, Power of Me! aims to prevent underage drinking and reduce alcohol-related injuries and death among children and youth due to underage alcohol use and riding in vehicles with impaired drivers.

References: Johnston, L. D., Miech, R. A., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., Schulenberg, J. E., & Patrick, M. E. (2022). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use 1975-2021: Overview, key findings on adolescent drug use. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan. 2Grant, B.F., and Dawson, D.A. Age at onset of drug use and its association with DSM–IV drug abuse and dependence: Results from the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey. Journal of Substance Abuse10:163–173, 19983Hingson, Ralph, et al. “Age of Drinking Onset, Driving After Drinking, and Involvement in Alcohol-Related Motor Vehicle Crashes. ”DOT HS809 188.Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, January2001.4National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH). Alcohol Alert: Why Do Adolescents Drink, What Are the Risks, and How Can Underage Drinking Be Prevented?. 2006.https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA67/AA67.htm5 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2007). The Surgeon General’s call to action to prevent and reduce underage drinking: A guide to action for educators. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General.

The Power of Me! Program Focuses On:

Educating children on how their brain continues to develop throughout childhood and adolescence, what alcohol does to the developing brain, and why it is important for children to protect their brains

Vehicle safety, particularly what children can do to protect themselves if they have to ride with someone who is impaired.

Life skills, including decision-making, resistance strategies, and communication skills.

Let’s Start the Conversation on the Power of Me!

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