New Report Shows Steady Decline in Underage Drinking

A new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows a significant decline in the level of underage alcohol consumption, as well as a drop in underage binge drinking.

The survey, which examined past month underage alcohol consumption over the years 2002 to 2013, found underage drinking among all U.S. residents from age 12 through 20 dropped by 21%. And underage binge drinking decreased by even more.

Despite this reduction, however, alcohol is still the drug of choice for teens. More people aged 12 to 20 currently use alcohol (22.7%) than use tobacco (16.9%) or illicit drugs (13.6%).

This once again supports the importance of parents talking to their kids about alcohol, early and often. Parental influence is the most important factor in helping keep kids safe, and MADD’s Power of Parents® program focuses on educating parents and caregivers about the dangers of underage drinking, and provides them the tools they need to talk with their kids about alcohol. Visit to download our Parent Handbook and get tips and tools to help you have this lifesaving conversation about alcohol with your kids.

The study also reinforces that despite what teens may think, when it comes to drinking, not everybody is doing it.  In fact, more than two out of three teens DON’T drink alcohol.

This is an especially important message this time of year. With more free time and potentially less supervision during summer vacation, kids may find themselves in situations that involve alcohol. It is important for teens to know that drinking is dangerous, illegal and not necessary to fit in. Our teen booklet, the 411 on Teen Drinking, contains useful information to help teens resist peer pressure, influence other teens to not drink before age 21 and never get in the car with someone who’s been drinking. Click here to download this free booklet for teens.

The report, Underage Drinking Declined Between 2002 and 2013 is based on SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health report, an annual national survey of 67,500 Americans aged 12 and older.  For a copy of the full report go to:

The Power to Prevent Underage Drinking

Today’s breakfast event at our National Conference was all about how underage drinking prevention plays a critical role in creating a future of No More Victims™. Families here at our National Conference, and those across the country, are why we work so hard to prevent underage drinking. As well as for all of the teens killed because of underage drinking due to heartbreaking tragedies like crashes, alcohol poisoning, fires, falls, drownings and sexual assaults.

Dr. Robert Turrisi, with Pennsylvania State University, joined us to provide a look at some of the latest research. Dr. Turrisi is a leading researcher on underage drinking, and his breakthrough and lifesaving work is the foundation on which we developed the Power of Parents® program.

A panel of MADD staff and volunteers also took the stage to provide real life examples of MADD’s underage drinking prevention efforts at work in communities across the country. The panel was led by MADD National Board Member Brad Bulla, who is a frequent speaker on victim impact panels and a force for stronger drunk driving laws in his home state of Tennessee. Brad’s son Jed was killed by a drunk driver on August 3, 2005.

Panelists include:

  • MADD Tennessee Program Manager Phaedra Marriott-Olsen. Phaedra has been with MADD since 1996, shortly after a drunk driving crash caused her multiple, life-altering injuries. Phaedra persevered, though, and began volunteering for MADD before joining the MADD Missouri staff and then transferring to MADD Tennessee. She has led the charge to implement Power of Parents and Power of You(th) in her community.
  • Alex Otte, a member of MADD’s National Teen Influencer Group. Alex is from Kentucky, and just graduated from high school. She has participated in state legislative efforts with MADD for stronger ignition interlock laws, and regularly uses the Power of You(th) to make an impact in her community.
  • Peter McShane, a MADD volunteer from Connecticut and community partner who was instrumental in getting the “Start Making a Right Turn™” or SMART program off the ground, which helps youth offenders and their parents make a turn in the right direction, in order to protect their – as well as others’ – futures. Peter has been involved with MADD since 1988 and is a State’s Attorney in Connecticut.
  • MADD Volunteer and former MADD National Board Member Kathryn Stewart. Kathryn is a leading voice for MADD’s Power of Community program. She has worked with MADD since 1990, providing input based on her scientific work in the impaired driving and underage drinking fields. Kathryn currently serves as the Director of Scientific Dissemination for the Prevention Research Center, part of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.

Underage drinking prevention may be the last prong listed in MADD’s mission, but it is by no means the least. It takes time and patience. But we are confident that MADD can and will empower school-aged youth today—called generation Z—to make smart, healthy choices about alcohol before they turn 21.

That means they will be less likely to be drinking drivers as adults… That means we’re preventing the next generation of offenders and future victims. 


Click here to learn more about our underage drinking prevention programs, and get our handbooks for parents and teens.

PowerTalk 21 Across the Country

On Monday, April 20th, MADD San Diego partnered with North Coastal Prevention Coalition and Boomers in Vista, CA for a 420 Remix and PowerTalk 21 event to celebrate living drug free and sober. The park was opened to surrounding middle and high school students with a parent chaperone for a free day at the park. At the event, MADD hosted Power of Parents workshops in both Spanish and English, as well as provided a booth with educational and awareness materials. A special thanks to Nationwide Insurance rep Susan J McArthur who joined program specialist Alicia Espinoza at the event. 

Community leaders gathered in the Rio Grande Valley to urge parents to download the Power of Parents handbook in advance of PowerTalk 21 day, April 21st, the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol.  MADD South Texas Program Specialist Rudy Rodriguez was joined at the event by Melissa Alviar of Uniting Neighbors in Drug Abuse Defense (UNIDAD); Olivia Benford, parental engagement director for the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District (PSJA ISD); Officer Irving Segura of the Pharr Police Department; and Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Octavio Saenz. Read more on the MADD Texas blog.

North Carolina

MADD North Carolina joined Holly Springs High School’s PTSA, Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina Police Departments, NC State Highway Patrol, and the Forensics Tests of Alcohol Branch to huge safety event focusing on underage drinking prevention and teen driving safety. The event reached over 800 students and kept participants engaged with a number of stations including a Power of You(th) exhibit, safe driving simulators, BATmobile tours and texting & driving golf kart experiences. Students also signed MADD’s Power of You(th) prom pledge. Students that completed these stations received a bag of goodies to further encourage them to make good decisions during their prom weekend and beyond.


The highly anticipated second annual Drive the Lane Celebrity Basketball Game organized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving of Southwest Florida was held on April 18th. The basketball game celebrated PowerTalk 21 and Power of Parents, MADD’s national program to equip parents and youth with the resources to start talking about underage drinking. The event kicked off with an autograph session and activities to start talking about the complex issue of underage drinking.  A red carpet step and repeat encouraged fans to take selfies in support of MADD’s #ProtectUrSelfie campaign.  A graffiti wall and chalk art installation gave fans a creative outlet to share their commitment to not drink before 21.  And, volunteers were on hand to distribute Power of Parents handbooks and materials as well as Power of You(th) booklets and wristbands. Read more on the Southwest Florida blog.

Today is PowerTalk 21 Day!

21 Days in Support of 21: Day 21

Today’s the day! It’s PowerTalk 21® day – the national day to talk with your kids about alcohol.

Teen alcohol use kills about 4,700 people each year, which is more than all other illegal drugs combined. But the good news is that parents have the power to help their kids make healthy decisions that can keep them safe. In fact, research shows that parents are the primary influence on their kids’ decisions about whether or not to drink alcohol. 

That’s why we started the Power of Parents® program and launched PowerTalk 21 day – to empower parents with the information and resources they need to help keep their children safe.

Help us reach as many parents as possible by sharing this image with your social network to help spread the word about PowerTalk 21 day:


Today is #PowerTalk21 day! Get the tools:

And don't forget, every person who downloads the handbook and/or registers for the virtual workshop by midnight tonight (April 21st) will be entered to win an Apple Watch Sport!

 Download-Handbook.jpg  Sign-Up-for-Workshop.jpg

Nationwide is Proud to Sponsor the Power of Parents Program (Guest Blog)

21 Days in Support of 21: Day 20

By Ann Ritterspach, Nationwide Associate Vice President, Affinity Relationship Management

This is Nationwide’s fifth year of being the presenting sponsor of MADD’s Power of Parents® program, and each year I look forward to PowerTalk 21®, knowing how many people we can reach with this lifesaving program.

This year, I’m particularly happy to help launch the middle school handbook, which you can download here. We know that not only are some kids beginning to drink before high school (which significantly increases their chances of having problems with alcohol in later life), but that they are picking up messages about alcohol even at these young ages and acting on them later in life.  As a parent, I really appreciate the information available through the program to help parents have this important conversation with their children.

In addition to being the National Presenting Sponsor of Power of Parents, our Nationwide agents across the country participate in their communities to help spread the word about PowerTalk 21 day – the national day to talk with your kids about alcohol.

Our goal at Nationwide is to help our members protect what matters most to them. And I cannot think of anything more important than helping our members prevent injuries to their children. That is why we introduced Make Safe Happen this year. Through Make Safe Happen, we provide information about household poisons, playing around pools, pedestrian and bicycle safety, and more to keep your children safe. 

Our partnership with MADD and the Power of Parents is just another way to keep your kids safe through resources to help parents and caregivers communicate with their kids about the dangers of underage drinking.

We’re proud to partner with MADD to help keep our nation’s children safe, and I hope you’ll use PowerTalk 21 day as just one opportunity to have the conversation with your kids about alcohol.

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