Many well-intentioned parents think that letting their child drink in their home will in the long-run teach them how to drink responsibly and will prevent them from drinking elsewhere. Early consumption of alcohol in any context increases the likelihood of problems in the long-run. Unfortunately, drinking with parents in the home does not prevent children from drinking outside the home or with their friends. There is no real evidence for the effect that most parents fear – the “boomerang effect” – that is, “if I don’t let them drink here at home, they’ll have a higher chance of drinking elsewhere”.

Expressing disapproval of drinking alcohol before legal age is something that has been shown to decrease the risk of later alcohol problems. In short, parents are powerful influences on drinking behavior. If you approve of underage drinking at home, your teenager will interpret that message to mean you approve of drinking, even if you tell them not to drink with their friends. If you do not approve of drinking at home, chances are they will be less likely to drink elsewhere. Moreover, parents may not know that in their state, they may be subject to civil and criminal penalties (including jail time and fines) if minors drink alcohol in their homes.

This site provides state-by-state information on social hosting penalties where you live.

For the purposes of this tool, social hosting was interpreted as broadly as possible as follows: when an individual over the legal age (18 or 21) serves, furnishes, or permits the possession or consumption of alcohol to a person underage (generally 20 years or younger) on property for which s/he has responsibility. All statutes, regulations and case law that were centered on social hosting of alcohol parties were included.

The Partnership at Drugfree.org and The Parents Translational Research Center at the Treatment Research Institute (TRI) developed this web application and resource to help parents understand social hosting laws in their state. Development of this tool was funded through grant #P50-DA02784 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.