Project Sticker Shock

Project Sticker Shock is the Kenton County Alliance annual campaign to prevent underage drinking.  In May and June, our volunteers will be applying bright orange stickers to packages of beer in Kenton County stores.  The stickers inform the purchaser that providing alcohol to minors is illegal and state the possible fines for providing to minors. 

Anyone can be a Sticker Shock volunteer. Youth, however, do require an adult to be with them and must be supervised at all times. Kenton County Attorney, Garry Edmondson, has helped with this campaign by mailing letters of support to stores with Kenton County liquor licenses.

You Tube video – one family’s experience with teen alcohol use.

Sticker Shock Activity & Discussion Guide

This guide was created to complement Sticker Shock planning and implementation by youth groups and organizations in Oakland County, Michigan, where this program originated.  It is meant to serve as starting point for adult facilitators (and peer discussion leaders, if applicable) to adapt to the needs of your group. Please feel free to change, add, or subtract discussion questions according to what works for you.  The goal is to add a reflection piece to the Sticker Shock experience, so that it can become a more meaningful and integrated part of your work.

1. Ice-Breaker – “Who here…”

This game can be done by raising hands, going to different sides of the room, switching seats around the table…  Ask, “Who here…”

…Saw at least one beer commercial on TV last night?

  • …Can think of at least four beer brands off the top of your head?
  • …Has ever watched a beer ad that was so funny you laughed out loud?
  • …Can recite the lines, or sing the song, from at least one beer commercial that you’ve seen recently?
  • …Believes that alcohol is NOT being marketed to kids your age?

2. Alcohol: What’s the big deal?

Overview of statistics from group facilitator.  This can be done as a Q & A guessing game:

What kills more American teens – alcohol or other illegal drugs?

  • Alcohol kills 6.5 more youth than all other illegal drugs combined.    It contributes to auto accidents, homicides, and suicides. (Ninth Special Report to the U.S. Congress on Alcohol and Health from the Secretary of Health and Human Services. June 1997)

True or False: Alcohol has the same impact on someone who is 17 as on someone who is 21.

  • FALSE.  Young people who begin drinking before age 17 are more than twice as likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21. Young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop dependence. (1992 National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiological Survey.   National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.)

What percentage of sexual assaults and date rapes of teens and college students are connected to alcohol?

  • Alcohol is linked to as many as two-thirds (66%) of sexual assaults and date rapes of teens and college students. (Youth and Alcohol: Dangerous and Deadly Consequences, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1992.)

True or False: If we changed the minimum drinking age back to 18 instead of 21, it would reduce problems with underage drinking.

  • FALSE.  Since the minimum drinking age was changed to 21 in 1984, deaths from drinking and driving accidents have decreased by thousands, saving an estimated 20,000 lives in the past 20 years.  (


The brainstorm can be conducted in large group and recorded on large newsprint, OR you can divide into smaller groups, with facilitator & recorder assigned to each.  Before beginning, review ground rules.  These will depend on your individual program, but might include: 1) respect different opinions; 2) focus on the issue; and 3) no names! (For example, say “I know a teacher who…” or “This woman I know…” rather than gossip or point fingers at specific people)

  • What messages about alcohol are you getting…
    • From advertising?
    • From TV shows (have group list a few of their top shows and primary alcohol messages they send)
    • From other entertainment media – movies, music, magazines, etc?
    • From kids at school?
    • From older friends and siblings?
    • From parents?
    • From law enforcement?
    • From teachers and administration at school? From coaches?
    • From adults in your neighborhood?

(Alternative question: First ask the group to list all their different sources of messages about alcohol, and then describe the messages they get from each.)

  • If you were to choose the top 3, which of these sources of information would you say are the strongest, i.e. the ones that people your age are most likely to believe?
  • …What about people over 21 that buy alcohol for minors?
    • What messages are adults getting about what’s normal and acceptable regarding youth and alcohol?
    • From where are they getting those messages?

 4.DISCUSSION: Shaping the message

If you divided into small groups, bring everyone back together.  Review and summarize notes from the brainstorming session.   Then discuss the following concepts:

  • What is a norm? What is a community norm?

Discuss the concept of “community norms,” i.e. what is generally considered to be normal, acceptable, or appropriate. Discuss the concept as it relates to alcohol. …Who decides what is normal? …How do people know what the “norm” really is?  

  • (Note: many students, esp. middle school age, need lots of concrete examples before the concept of “norms” makes sense.  You might want to start with a discussion of something concrete like clothing styles, and difference in cultural or social expectations of clothing for teenagers vs. adults, for boys vs. girls, for work vs. the weekend.  Who decides what people are supposed to wear? Who decides what is in style and what is out of style?  If students say they aren’t affected by it, do a survey around the room of how many are wearing jeans, or how many are wearing sneakers.  …The clothing style analogy can also help to show that norms CAN be changed, that something that is considered cool today CAN become out of fashion tomorrow).

 What’s the difference between a true norm and a perceived norm?

Discuss the way in which true norms (what is actually going on) are sometimes different from the perceived norms (what people believe is going on).  Discuss the way in which people might sometimes decide how to act based more on what they think is normal, rather than what the norm truly is.

  • What role does the media & advertising play in shaping community norms?
  • What other kinds of things could cause people to perceive the norms to be more extreme than they really are? (i.e. why might kids think that more people drink more frequently and more heavily than they really do?)
  • What role can we play in shaping community norms regarding underage drinking? How can we decrease messages that promote underage drinking, and increase messages that discourage it?  List ideas.