Protecting El Paso’s young people from the harms associated with underage drinking is the intent of the ordinance. Once implemented, this ordinance will provide law enforcement with an additional mechanism that will help prevent some of these parties and will help them hold people accountable when they do happen through fines, community service, or taking an education course.
Many believe that providing alcohol to teenagers at home promotes drinking alcohol responsibly and lessens the risk of drinking problems as teens get older. But evidence challenges these beliefs. Making alcohol accessible to teenagers actually increases the chance that they will continue to drink as they get older and can lead to drinking problems as adults. In addition, teens who begin drinking at a young age have a greater chance of developing an alcohol use disorder as adults. Research also suggests that adolescents are more likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs if their parents are permissive about alcohol use.
The Paso del Norte Health Foundation commissioned a status report on underage drinking in El Paso this year. What they found is that alcohol is the leading drug of choice among El Paso youth with more than 28 percent of ninth graders reporting drinking alcohol in the past 30 days. About 17 percent reported binge drinking, or having five or more drinks in a row on one occasion. Another recent study showed that 56 percent of 12th graders and 30 percent of 9th graders said that alcohol was at “most or all of the parties they attend.”
The Alcohol Impact Network is a group of community members concerned with the harms of underage and binge drinking. The Network is coordinated through the Paso del Norte Health Foundation’s Shift+ initiative and the YMCA of El Paso.