The good news: Teenage alcohol use is on the decline. Now for the bad news: Alcohol is still the most widely used and abused substance by adolescents, 15 and up. Or so says the experts at Parentandteen.com, who also claim that by age 15, 33 percent of teens have consumed at least one alcoholic beverage. By 18 years of age, that percentage jumps to an alarming 60 percent.
While it’s important to have frank conversations at home with your teenager about the dangers of drinking alcohol, it’s also important to keep in mind that teens are curious creatures. No matter how much you warn them, many are not only going to sneak a drink with their friends or even while alone, a certain percentage are going to get hooked early on. Should the worst happen, and your teen get addicted to alcohol, it’s important to know that it can have adverse effects on your teen’s developing body and brain. It also means you must get them into a teen alcoholism treatment facility/program as soon as humanly possible.
But just because some teens are going to abuse alcohol, it doesn’t mean yours is going to follow suit. The more educated you are as a parent as to how to keep your child alcohol free, the better things are going to be for the entire family.
First things first. You need to be aware of the all the facts about teen drinking.
Alcohol Places Teenagers in Danger
- It will impair their judgment and can put them in danger of being hurt or even sexually exploited.
- It can make teens feel invincible and therefore encourage them to take unnecessary risks like driving too fast or snowboarding out of control.
- Alcohol reduces reaction time and can lead to auto accidents.
- Alcohol can damage developing brains by changing the function of the amygdala which is the part of the brain that controls memory and emotion.
Now that you know some of the ill effects of teen drinking, what are some of the steps you can take to stop it?
Create Stress Management Skills
Teens sometimes take to drinking as a means of escape (just like adults). Some will increase their intake to hide their real feelings or to escape reality altogether. But parents can help their kids cope with pain and stress by talking plainly with them and creating a plan for dealing with reality, be it a hobby or even talking to a counselor.
Keep a Close Eye on Friendships
If your teen’s friends are using alcohol and drugs, there’s a pretty good chance he or she is going to at least experiment with them also. You need to remind your teen that drinking underage is illegal. But you also need to maintain open communication with them. They can’t be afraid to tell you they had a beer or took a hit off a joint and that they did so because their friends were subjecting them to peer pressure.
Establish a Parent/Teen Contract
Parentandteen.com states that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have a creating an actual parent/teen agreement or contract that supports an open discussion about avoiding alcohol and other illicit substances. It includes a number of rules and consequences should your teen break them, for any reason. What’s key is that you need to communicate to your child your “zero tolerance” policy of drinking and driving. Full stop.
Kids love parties. But parents must let their teen know that no alcohol will be served at an underage party. Parental supervision is a requirement at these gatherings since it’s relatively easy for teens to sneak a drink or two from a parent’s bar and/or refrigerator. Always be aware of how much alcohol you have in the house, especially when a party of teens are present.
Instill Peer Pressure Abilities
One of the hardest things for teens to avoid is peer pressure. That point in their young lives where a friend or friends are calling them “chicken” if they don’t smoke a joint or chug a beer. One effective trick is to set up a code word or sentence your teen can text you if they’re feeling pressured into doing something they don’t want while at a friend’s house. You can immediately come pick them up. Or, with your help, your teen can develop a strong response to being pressured into drinking, such as, “My parents will know I’ve been drinking since they can smell it on my breath. So no thanks.”
Consuming alcohol moderately can be one of the great pleasures in life if done responsibly and at the proper age. But teen drinking can lead to physical, developmental, and neurological problems early on. It can also be the gateway for addiction to harder substances. Teach your teen about the pitfalls of drinking too early in their lives. They will thank you for it later on.
Article Submitted By Community Writer