Junior Prom, Senior Prom, and Graduation are all fast approaching… have you talked to your kids about the Dangers of Using drugs and Alcohol?
Your Child’s Views About Alcohol. Ask your young teen what he or she knows about alcohol and what he or she thinks about teen drinking. Ask your child why he or she thinks kids drink. Listen carefully without interrupting. Not only will this approach help your child to feel heard and respected, but it can serve as a natural “lead-in” to discussing alcohol topics.
Important Facts About Alcohol. Although many kids believe that they already know everything about alcohol, myths and misinformation abound. Here are some important facts to share:
- Alcohol is a powerful drug that slows down the body and mind. It impairs coordination; slows reaction time; and impairs vision, clear thinking, and judgment.
- Beer and wine are not “safer” than hard liquor. A 12-ounce can of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, and 1.5 ounces of hard liquor all contain the same amount of alcohol and have the same effects on the body and mind.
- On average, it takes 2 to 3 hours for a single drink to leave a person’s system. Nothing can speed up this process, including drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or “walking it off.”
- People tend to be very bad at judging how seriously alcohol has affected them. That means many individuals who drive after drinking think they can control a car—but actually cannot.
- Anyone can develop a serious alcohol problem, including a teenager.
Good Reasons Not to Drink. In talking with your child about reasons to avoid alcohol, stay away from scare tactics. Most young teens are aware that many people drink without problems, so it is important to discuss the consequences of alcohol use without overstating the case. Some good reasons why teens should not drink:
You want your child to avoid alcohol. Clearly state your own expectations about your child’s drinking. Your values and attitudes count with your child, even though he or she may not always show it.
To maintain self-respect. Teens say the best way to persuade them to avoid alcohol is to appeal to their self-respect—let them know that they are too smart and have too much going for them to need the crutch of alcohol. Teens also are likely to pay attention to examples of how alcohol might lead to embarrassing situations or events—things that might damage their self-respect or alter important relationships.
Drinking is illegal. Because alcohol use under the age of 21 is illegal, getting caught may mean trouble with the authorities. Even if getting caught doesn’t lead to police action, the parents of your child’s friends may no longer permit them to associate with your child.
Drinking can be dangerous. One of the leading causes of teen deaths is motor vehicle crashes involving alcohol. Drinking also makes a young person more vulnerable to sexual assault and unprotected sex. And while your teen may believe he or she wouldn’t engage in hazardous activities after drinking, point out that because alcohol impairs judgment, a drinker is very likely to think such activities won’t be dangerous.
You have a family history of alcoholism. If one or more members of your family has suffered from alcoholism, your child may be somewhat more vulnerable to developing a drinking problem.
Alcohol affects young people differently than adults. Drinking while the brain is still maturing may lead to long-lasting intellectual effects and may even increase the likelihood of developing alcohol dependence later in life.
Facts and tips from “National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism”