For more information about RUDC on this web site:
Approximately 10 million American youth under the age of 21 drink alcohol. Nearly half of them drink to excess, consuming five or more drinks in a row, one or more times in a two-week period.
Alcohol is the most frequently used drug by high school seniors, and its use is increasing. Boys usually try alcohol for the first time at just 11 years old, while the average age for American girls' first drink is 13. In short, our nation's youth are flirting with disaster. Consider the facts:
- Underage drinking is a factor in nearly half of all teen automobile crashes, the leading cause of death among teenagers.
- Alcohol use contributes to youth suicides, homicides and fatal injuries—the leading causes of death among youth after auto crashes.
- Alcohol abuse is linked to as many as two-thirds of all sexual assaults and date rapes of teens and college students.
- Alcohol is a major factor in unprotected sex among youth, increasing their risk of contracting HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.
Creating Solutions by Changing Environments
To combat underage alcohol abuse and the health risks and societal harm associated with it, the American Medical Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have joined forces to help communities throughout the country find solutions that go beyond simply admonishing youth to say "no" to alcohol.
Traditional efforts to reduce underage drinking have focused solely on youth education and prevention techniques, often simply trying to convince youth not to drink. Research shows that this model has been only marginally successful. Reducing Underage Drinking Through Coalitions is embracing a new approach that focuses instead on how the social environment encourages—even enables—alcohol abuse among young people.
"We are finally taking decisive action against a major public health crisis that has taken a huge toll on the lives and futures of young Americans."
— Percy Wootton, MD
Past President, American Medical Association
A Unique, United Approach
Through this $10.2 million initiative, 12 coalitions of youth, business, civic organizations, government agencies, the religious community and other leaders will identify those factors in the environment that contribute most to underage drinking in their communities and work together to create positive change.
These factors may include illegal alcohol sales to minors, alcohol distribution and pricing practices, cultural norms and marketing promotions and advertising. Advertising, for example, helps shape young peoples' beliefs about drinking, particularly when humorous, cartoon-like characters or glamorous images are used. Youth see almost as much television alcohol advertising as adults. According to the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth, young people (ages 12 to 20) saw two beer and ale ads in 2001 for every three seen by an adult, and an estimated 30 percent of youth saw at least 780 alcohol commercials in 2001.
Examples of environmental policy changes that coalitions may seek include enforcement activities to insure that merchants are not selling alcohol to minors, or social host liability laws, which hold suppliers of alcohol to minors (usually supplied at parties) liable for any problems that occur.
By uniting young people and adults concerned about this important public health issue, Reducing Underage Drinking Through Coalitions will seek policy solutions that significantly reduce underage drinking and create healthier, safer communities for everyone.
"The common goal for each of these coalitions is to decrease the number of health, safety and social problems caused by underage alcohol use."
— Steven A. Schroeder, MD
Past President, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Solutions Through Coalitions
- The Connecticut Coalition to Stop Underage Drinking
- The Georgia Alcohol Policy Partnership
- The Indiana Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking
- The Louisiana Alliance to Prevent Underage Drinking
- The Minnesota Join Together Coalition to Reduce Underage Alcohol Use
- Missouri's Youth/Adult Alliance Against Underage Drinking
- The National Capital Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking
- The North Carolina Initiative to Reduce Underage Drinking
- The Oregon Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking
- Pennsylvanians Against Underage Drinking
- The Puerto Rico Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking
- Texans Standing Tall, A Statewide Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking
To learn more about individual coalitions, please see our map with links. It includes links to RUDC coalition web sites.
The RUDC program is evaluated by The University of Minnesota — Alcohol Epidemiology Program — University of Minnesota
The National Effort
Reducing Underage Drinking Through Coalitions is one of two national efforts supported by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to confront the issues and problems associated with youth and alcohol and to find solutions through environmental change. The other, A Matter of Degree: The National Effort to Reduce High-Risk Drinking Among College Students, is changing college-campus environments through university and community partnerships. Both programs are directed by the American Medical Association's Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse.