Prom and graduation seasons are exciting times in teens' lives.
They can also be a source of great regret if the wrong choices are made.
Teens and adults face harsh penalties if underage drinking is a part of these activities.
The legal consequences of underage drinking can cause financial hardship, loss of employment and strained family and social relationships.
Some 23.2 percent of high school seniors reported participating in binge drinking (having five or more drinks in a row) in 2011, the National Institutes of Health reports.
The fourth leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 24 is alcohol, officials at Narconon of Oklahoma Inc. said.
Alcohol also is a major factor in the three leading causes of death for youth, which include suicide, motor vehicle crashes, and homicide, and is linked to two-thirds of all sexual assaults and date rapes of teens as well as college students.
"Underage drinking is illegal, has long term health consequences and is a factor in all five of the leading causes of death among youth," said Florence County Health Department Director, Annette Seibold.
Alcohol abuse is the number one drug problem facing the United States.
Youth violence, traffic crashes, property crime, treatment, and medical aid due to underage alcohol use costs the state of Michigan $2 billion annually.
Underage drinking only happens because adults allow it, because someone over the age of 21 has purchased, provided, or assisted an underage person to obtain alcohol.
The Michigan Department of Community Health is encouraging all adults to "Do Your Part" in preventing underage drinking.
The MDCH reminds anyone over 21 that it is never OK to purchase or supply alcohol to a minor.
"Underage drinking is a major public health concern," said Olga Dazzo, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. "Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in our state. It's especially troubling since youth who start to drink before age 15 are seven times more likely to experience alcohol problems as adults."
Although strides are being made to reduce underage drinking, the Michigan Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicates that 69 percent of Michigan high school students, 9th through 12th grade, reported having at least one drink during their lifetime.
For high school seniors the rate is higher at 77 percent. In addition, 35 percent of those high school seniors reported drinking alcohol within the past 30 days.
Recently, the Michigan Department of Community Health worked with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to develop a video that focuses on the fact that adults have a role in preventing underage drinking.
Adults may be parents, siblings, or other family members. But it's also beyond family.
Coaches, teachers, law enforcement, clergy and retailers can have an impact as well.
Regardless of our roles and identities, adults interact with youth on a regular basis and everyone can help send a clear message that underage drinking is not appropriate.
Here are some ways adults can send a clear message and "Do Your Part:"
- Parents can set clear rules and expectations with their children that in their family it is not OK to drink before the age of 21.
- Teachers can set rules in their classrooms that talking about parties that occurred over the weekend and involved drinking is not allowed.
- Coaches can set clear standards that drinking by members of their team is not allowed, and enforce these standards consistently and without exception.
- All concerned community members can take part in local Alcohol Awareness Month activities throughout the month of April.