Preventing Alcohol Abuse in Chicago

Preventing Alcohol Abuse in Chicago Teens (PAACT) is a multi-agency coalition convened by Lurie Children’s to address the prevention of alcohol use among 8th – 12th graders in the City of Chicago.

PAACT’s mission is to reduce underage drinking and promote health and wellness by engaging Chicago’s communities and youth in strategies that work. PAACT’s vision is a healthy Chicago where youth are empowered and alcohol free.


  • Decrease past 30 day alcohol use among 8th – 12th grade youth.
  • Reduce one or more of the following consequences of underage drinking: ​
    • Number of underage alcohol-related crash fatalities.
    • Number of zero tolerance violations.
    • Number of alcohol-related emergency department visits.
  • Impact one or more contributing factors (risk and protective factors) for underage drinking among 8th – 12th grade youth:
    • ​Perceived risk of harm associated with daily drinking and binge drinking.
    • Personal disapproval of youth alcohol use.
    • Perceived peer attitudes (norms) associated with youth alcohol use (i.e., perception by peers as “cool”).
    • Perceived parental disapproval of youth alcohol use.
    • Perceived community (adult) disapproval of underage drinking.
    • Parental communication regarding their disapproval of youth alcohol use.
    • Parental monitoring of alcohol-related behavior (i.e., likelihood of being caught by parents).
    • Family rules about alcohol and drug use.
    • Perceived ease of access to alcohol.
    • Access to different alcohol sources among past year alcohol users.

Key Strategies

With the goal of reducing underage drinking and promoting health and wellness in the city of Chicago, PAACT’s approach is concentrated on three strategies.

  1. ​Communications Campaign (Youth in 8th – 10th grade)
  2. Communications Campaign (Parents of Youth in 8th – 10th grade)
  3. School Policy

PAACT is also involved in the recruitment and administration of the Illinois Youth Survey (IYS). The IYS is a self-report survey administered in school settings and is designed to gather information about a variety of health and social indicators including substance use patterns and attitudes of Illinois youth. To learn more about the IYS, please go to

Getting Involved with PAACT

There are many ways and opportunities to get involved with PAACT. For more information, email

Project Team Members

Jen Leininger, M. Ed., Associate Director of Community Programs

Leslie Helmcamp, MPAff, Associate Director, Policy

Kate Spitzer-Cohn, Program Coordinator

Linda Gordon, BHS, Community Coordinator

David Arzola, Operations Manager

Emily Jade Aguilar, Outreach Assistant

Dion McGill, Communications and Community Outreach Manager

NEW REPORT: Open Bottles Broken Policies

Preventing Alcohol Abuse in Chicago Teens (PAACT) commissioned Voices of Youth In Chicago Education (VOYCE) to research ways to improve school discipline policies related to alcohol use. In the summer of 2018, VOYCE engaged in a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project where youth researchers critically examined the cause of underage drinking and developed recommendations to improve school discipline policies. Please see their recently released report, Open Bottles Broken Policies, which highlights their findings and proposed solutions for addressing underage drinking in Chicago.