Survey: Home is where the liquor is

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:52

    By Linda Keay Alcohol is easily obtained by underage drinkers, and the young people are twice as likely to obtain the booze at home than at local stores or at school, according to a recent Straus Newspapers Web ( poll. The young people who responded to the survey also indicated that they are twice as likely (36 percent) to drink in order to "fit in with my friends" than to do it "to be cool" (15 percent). Sixty-two percent also indicated that stress was a significant factor in why they did drink. The survey also indicated that only half of the underage poll participants said they're "not at all" permitted to drink at home. That same question to parents resulted in 40 percent saying underage drinking in the home is "not at all" permitted. The Straus Newspapers Web poll received 303 responses from Orange County in New York and from Sussex and Passaic counties in New Jersey. Although it may not be scientific, the Web poll does provide a glimpse of what's going on in our communities. The Straus poll also mirror results from other surveys of young people and alcohol. For instance, surveys commissioned by the American Medical Association demonstrate that many teens obtain alcohol provided by parents: 24 percent of the teens said their parents had given them alcohol, 21 percent say they had been to a party where teens drank alcohol supplied by parents, and 27 percent had been to a party where teens were drinking with parents present. Students made up 46 percent of the Straus Newspapers Web site survey; 33 percent reported being parents; and 10 percent non-students. Sixty-four percent reported they are females, 36 percent males. Ages reporting include 13 to 18 (33 percent), 19 to 25 (19 percent), 26 to 40 (16 percent), 41 to 60 (26 percent), 60+ (6 percent). The Straus survey indicated that alcohol is most easily obtained at home, according to 76 percent of survey takers. Local stores came in next at 38 percent and 14 percent said it's easiest to get at school. Asked if it is okay for young people to drink as long as they don't use other drugs, more than a third in the Straus survey said, "yes, definitely" or "yes, somewhat." In addition, 39 percent said it was okay for teenagers to drink as long as they don't drive. The survey attempted to discern the reasons behind why young people drink by asking: "Do you feel pressure from friends to drink alcohol?" Forty-two percent said they felt no pressure; about 30 percent indicated there was. Patricia De Coste, clinical director for Prevention Counseling at the Sussex County, N.J., Coalition for Healthy and Safe Families, said surveys typically under represent questions about peer pressure. "Almost all early use begins with their peers," said De Coste. "It's usually not done alone." When the Straus poll asked why young people drink, 36 percent answered "to fit in with friends." Another 15 percent indicated "to be cool," while 49 percent chose "other." In answer to the question: "Do you drink to relieve stress," 62 percent said this is "somewhat true" or "definitely true." In the open-ended segment, stress relief was mentioned several times, as well as "to feel better," "to escape reality," "to escape from the misery that is everyday life." Still others said that drinking "takes away problems," "escape pressures," "the thrill," "nothing to do," and "to feel better." Some others said, "many parents allow it now," and that they "drink because adults do, relaxation, escapism, the same reasons adults would, emotional needs." When asked "Do you talk to your children, or do your parents talk to you, about the effects of using alcohol," 73 percent answered "yes, definitely" or "yes, somewhat." Asked if there is a problem with drinking in the community, 63 percent said, "yes definitely" or "yes somewhat." Given an opportunity to be specific in an open-ended segment of the survey, many people indicated that they drank with "friends," "older friends" and "friends' houses." Some also indicated they drank at parties and at homes. One answered: "Anywhere."