Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Colorado Video Highlights Role of Adults in Underage Drinking

Date Published:Sep 17, 2010

Underage drinking is an adult problem. Prevention is an adult responsibility.

These are the concepts Colorado is highlighting in its new video, “Underage Drinking: It’s an Adult Problem,” designed to both raise awareness and change norms about underage drinking. Supported by SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), the video project is based on the idea that every time someone under the age of 21 drinks, an adult is involved in some way—either by providing the alcohol, actively condoning the drinking, or simply looking the other way. It zeros in on how adults need to take responsibility for their own behaviors and become part of the prevention solution.

The project is spearheaded by Information Prevention Specialist Chanel Freeman from the Colorado Division of Behavioral Health, and guided by a team of prevention coalitions from urban, rural, and frontier regions. Kathleen Gary, a Training and Technical Assistance Specialist with CSAP’s Collaborative for the Application of Prevention Technologies, joined the project team to participate in script development and dissemination efforts.

Working together, the team reviewed State- and national-level data on middle school, high school, and young adult underage and binge drinking. This close examination of the data drove development of the video and a media campaign, ensuring that messages were on target. Conveying her excitement about participating in the project, Gary said, “It’s been entirely challenging and yet fun. Challenging because drilling into the data often led to more questions around the casual factors associated with the prevalence or consequences of underage drinking. But it is also fun to be part of an initiative that taps into the creative energies of prevention staff and coalitions as they watch a vision unfold and come to fruition.”

The video includes three sequential, one-minute vignettes showing youth in different underage drinking situations. Speaking to their adult viewers, the characters emphasize how often and how much underage drinking happens, its consequences and risks, and what adults can do can do to address the problem.

Colorado has begun identifying ways to disseminate the video to targeted audiences throughout the State—including parents, youth, legislators, prevention provider communities, policy makers, community coalitions, and law enforcement—once production is completed in early fall. Options include streaming the video on prevention Websites, distributing a DVD to constituents, and offering it as a Public Service Announcement. Through widespread distribution, the project team hopes to boost underage drinking prevention initiatives in communities throughout the State.


Developed under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies contract (Reference #HHSS277200800004C).