Alcohol Prevention Program: ABC’s Initiatives to Prevent Underage Drinking


The tween and teenage years are a whirlwind of new experiences. Some of those experiences can be challenging but exciting, like joining a school club or athletic team or learning how to drive. Others can be overwhelming and upsetting, like dealing with social pressures to “fit in.”

Most young people will be confronted with peer pressure to drink alcohol at some point before or during their teenage years. Friends or classmates may threaten to exclude them from activities if they don’t drink alcohol. Social media posts may convince them that underage drinking is what all the “cool” kids do. They may mistakenly believe that alcohol will help them cope with anxiety or depression.

It’s essential to dispel these myths and give young people the facts about underage drinking. That’s why alcohol prevention programs such as Talk it Out NC, the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission’s initiative, are so vital! Let’s take a closer look at the NC ABC Commission and its role in underage drinking prevention.

What’s the Role of the NC ABC Commission?

The NC ABC Commission is an independent state agency within the NC Department of Public Safety. Its mission is to “Enhance public safety in NC Communities through regulation, education, permitting, and the proper sale and responsible consumption of alcohol.” In fulfilling this mission, the ABC Commission works to prevent underage drinking through various initiatives like Talk it Out NC.

What Are Alcohol Prevention Programs?

As the name implies, alcohol prevention programs are designed to discourage underage drinking. The programs do more than simply say, “Don’t drink.” Instead, they use a multi-faceted approach to raise awareness, provide education, and reduce access to and consumption of alcohol by adolescents. Their primary goal is to inform teens, parents, and communities about the risks and consequences of underage drinking.

Because alcohol prevention programs support the health and well-being of society at large, many are funded by state legislatures or agencies. In North Carolina, we have the Talk it Out NC initiative. Other examples include the Idaho Office of Drug Policy (ODP), which created the Be the Parents campaign, and Utah’s Parents Empowered resource, which is funded by the state legislature.

Why Is Preventing Underage Drinking Important?

Although movies, music, and social media would have you believe that underage drinking is a rite of passage and no big deal, the opposite is true. Not only can underage drinking have negative impacts on a teen’s physical and mental health, but it also poses risks to the community at large. Here are some of the major issues:

  • Alcohol disrupts the development of the teenage brain and can interfere with memory, learning, and decision-making. Even worse, underage drinking can “wire” the teenage brain for substance use disorders in the future.
  • Underage drinking is linked to mental illness. It may contribute to depression, anxiety, an inhibited stress response, and an increased risk of suicide.
  • Adolescents often binge drink, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). In addition to altering brain function, binge drinking by teens can lead to blackouts, unplanned or unwanted sexual activity, fights, accidents, and driving while intoxicated.
  • Alcohol-related accidents, injuries, and fatalities involving teens occur far too often. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports, “Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and about a quarter of fatal crashes involve an underage drinker.” Besides impacting the individuals involved, these incidents also affect family members, classmates, and the broader community.
  • Underage drinking impacts everyone — even if you aren’t a teenager or a parent. Each community must bear the social and economic costs associated with the consumption of alcohol by minors.

How Can I Help Prevent Underage Drinking?

If you’re interested in preventing underage drinking, there are many ways you can support ABC’s initiatives:

Tweens and Teens

  • Talk with your parents. Ask questions you have about alcohol and share your concerns, especially if you’re feeling pressured by friends to drink.
  • Educate yourself. Learn the facts about underage drinking and how dangerous it is.
  • Be assertive. Combine efforts with another sober friend or your parents to brainstorm and practice ways to comfortably say “no” to friends or classmates who encourage you to consume alcohol.
  • Support your friends. Be a positive influence by making responsible choices and supporting your friends to do the same.


  • Communicate openly with your children. Talk it Out NC has tips to help you Start the Conversation about underage drinking with children of all ages. This is your opportunity to positively influence the way they think about alcohol.
  • Set clear expectations. Establish rules about alcohol and be consistent in enforcing them.
  • Be a positive role model. Your children pay attention to your actions. Use alcohol responsibly and don’t engage in risky drinking behavior or impaired driving.
  • Stay informed. Explore Talk it Out NC’s alcohol education resources to learn how to recognize the signs of underage drinking and how to help your child address a problem with alcohol if it arises.
  • Promote awareness. Talk with other parents, educators, and community leaders about prioritizing prevention efforts.

Alcohol prevention programs are an important part of the effort to stop underage drinking, but parents, teenagers, and community leaders must also get involved in promoting responsible alcohol use. When we all work together, we can create a safer and healthier tomorrow for teens and everyone else!