Despite the U.S. having a Minimum Legal Drinking Age of 21 in place for nearly a quarter of a century, alcohol remains the most heavily abused substance by adolescents in the United States. It is estimated that underage drinking results in approximately 5,000 deaths from motor vehicle accidents and other causes every year, as well as a variety of health and psycho-social problems. Underage drinking parties are events that often entail high levels of drinking and alcohol-related consequences. As a result, many local communities are pursuing social host ordinances as a way to prevent or reduce the number and size of underage drinking parties. Despite the promise and popularity of local social host ordinances, their impact has not been assessed. The proposed project will use a community-based participatory approach to assess the impact of local social host ordinance development, passage, and enforcement. Specifically, we will partner with coalitions in 12 Intervention communities and 12 Delayed Intervention communities to build community capacity and mobilize communities to pass and enforce local social host ordinances. We will assess the impact of this intervention on passage of social host ordinances, law enforcement focus on underage drinking parties, community norms regarding these parties, and awareness of potential hosts of enforcement and sanctions. We will also examine the impact of the intervention on changes in hosting behavior, youth behavior, and more distal behavioral and community outcomes. The research team at Wake Forest School of Medicine will partner with Community Anti- Drug Coalitions of America, a Coalition Advisory Board, and coalitions in 24 local communities to carry out this project.

Public Health Relevance

Many communities are addressing underage drinking by pursuing social host ordinances, but their effectiveness is unknown. The proposed research will assess the effectiveness of these ordinances in reducing the number and size of underage drinking parties and in preventing high-risk drinking and its consequences. The proposed project will use a community-based participatory approach to examine the impact of local social host ordinance development, passage, and enforcement.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Research Project (R01)
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Community-Level Health Promotion Study Section (CLHP)
Program Officer
Bloss, Gregory
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Wake Forest University Health Sciences
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Egan, Kathleen L; Suerken, Cynthia; Debinski, Beata et al. (2018) More than just Alcohol: Marijuana and Illicit Drug Use at Parties Attended by 15-20 Year Olds. Subst Use Misuse :1-10
Wolfson, Mark; Wagoner, Kimberly G; Rhodes, Scott D et al. (2017) Coproduction of Research Questions and Research Evidence in Public Health: The Study to Prevent Teen Drinking Parties. Biomed Res Int 2017:3639596