Did you know that underage drinking increases the risk for an individual to suffer from alcohol dependence in the adult years. To be specific, youth who start drinking before the age of 15 years are SIX TIMES MORE LIKELY to develop alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse. This is because the use of alcohol during these adolescent years interferes with proper brain development. What is even scarier is that alcohol is the #1 drug of choice among youth due to its ease of access among other reasons. About 1/3 OF TEENS have had at least one drink by the age of 15, and that number DOUBLES by the age of 18.
So how can we combat adult alcoholism and save our youth from alcohol dependence and addiction…
PREVENTION AND AWARENESS!
As parents/guardians and trusted adults of our teens, our best prevention tool is a conversation. Even if it may not seem so, talking to your teen about the dangers of underage drinking, the risks of alcoholism, and expressing your disapproval of engaging in underage drinking is one of the most effective tools to prevent our kids from drinking. More often than not, teens DO listen to their parents/guardians, and their choices are influenced by what is shown to be approved by parents/guardians. So, if you talk, they will listen! In addition to these efforts, you can also get to know your children’s friends and connect with other parents to ensure your ideals are shared across the board.
Here are some other quick tips for talking with kids about alcohol consumption:
- Communicate early before a problem starts
- Show you care
- Pay attention to their behaviors, activities, and when they speak
- Plan family activities
- Enforce consequences and exhibit disapproval of negative behaviors
- Be open and honest to any questions they may have
Concerning access, we encourage not making alcohol so easily accessible in the home by locking up any and all alcoholic beverages. We also encourage that you supervise or ensure there is supervision at parties your teen is attending, and DO NOT provide any alcoholic beverages to minors. As adults, we can also choose to be the example and exhibit responsible drinking practices in front of our youth should they choose to drink when they become of age.
Such small efforts can have a huge impact on the choices our youth make when it comes to their health and wellness in abstaining from underage drinking.
Additional Resources and Info
Download the “Talk. They Hear You.”® App or text “TALK” to 85775 for conversation starter ideas and tips!