PHMA’s Regional Director Weighs In on Underage Drinking

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Debby Taylor, Senior Vice President and Regional Director of Phoenix Houses of the Mid-Atlantic, offered a succinct, evidence-based response in the Washington Post’s Opinion Section on Monday, February 20th, reacting to WUSA-TV reporter Andrea McCarren’s recent expose on the epidemic of teen drinking in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. After the initial reports aired, Ms. McCarren and her family were continuously harassed, eventually seeking police protection against these threats. This hostility mainly stemmed from many local teenagers’ feelings of entitlement regarding drinking, a practice that they claimed had been unjustly taken away following the television reports. In response to Andrea McCarren, the primary reporter on the story, one student opined, “You just ruined weekends for all kids underage.” Debby Taylor’s response refuted many of these biased opinions, presenting the realistic and harsh dangers of underage drinking. An excerpt follows:

I was dismayed to read about the vitriolic reaction to Andrea McCarren’s reports on underage drinking. Those who lashed out at Ms. McCarren and her family are clearly unaware that underage drinking is not only illegal but dangerous. Research has shown that people under the age of 21 are extremely vulnerable to alcohol’s effects on their developing brains. For this reason, early alcohol use can set the stage for alcohol dependence later in life. We also know that if a person reaches the age of 21 without developing a substance abuse problem, he or she is unlikely to develop one in the future. Thus, the time to safeguard our young people’s futures is now. If parents knew how much their children were really drinking, they would be up in arms. Unfortunately, it usually takes a life-changing event for them to discover the truth — and by then, it may be too late.

Adolescents at the Boys Recovery Lodge in Arlington, Virginia, learn about the recovery process.

Debby Taylor and the rest of the Phoenix House leadership team take underage alcohol and substance abuse very seriously.  Evidence of our determination can be found in all Phoenix House regions, where numeous adolescent programs have long been in place to provide high-quality treatment to youth and their families.  Specifically, Phoenix Houses of the Mid-Atlantic offers two adolescent residential programs: The Girls Recovery Lodge ( and the Boys Recovery Lodge (

Thank you to all who are working in the substance abuse treatment and prevention field for helping adolescents understand and, more importantly, recover from addiction!

Share this page: Print this page:

Comments are closed.