It’s no secret that alcohol and teenagers are a dangerous combination. Alcohol is the most frequently used drug by teens in the United States. About half of junior high and senior high school students drink alcohol on a monthly basis, and 14% of teens have been intoxicated at least once in the past year. Nearly 8% of teens who drink say they drink at least five or more alcoholic drinks in a row, commonly known as binge drinking.
Talk to your teen about drinking: Have you talked with your teenager about this subject? With all of the peer pressure on your child growing up in today’s society, they may think it’s not a “big deal” to indulge in alcohol. But the results can be deadly and your teen may not have the maturity to understand the choices she is making. Here are some topics that you can include in your conversation.
- Drinking and Driving: Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among kids ages 15 to 20. Teenagers are new, young drivers. As parents, what rules have you established to insure that you and your teenager understand the necessity for responsible driving?
- Suicide: Alcohol use interacts with conditions such as depression and stress to contribute to suicide, the third leading cause of death among people between the ages of 14 and 25. Drinking can alter rational thought patterns and suicide may seem to “make sense” as the most reasonable alternative to a difficult situation. Alcohol can enhance the symptoms of depression. As a parent, how are you keeping lines of communication open with your teen? Have you noticed any changes in behavior?
- Sexual Assault: Sexual assault, including rape, occurs most commonly among women in late adolescence and early adulthood, usually within the context of a date. Research suggests that alcohol use by the offender, the victim or both, increase the likelihood of sexual assault by a male acquaintance. Talking about how alcohol can impair clear judgment with your child is imperative; among other things, it can help her avoid getting into this dangerous and devastating situation. Consuming alcohol can also increase emotional reactions such as anger. If a teen tries to stop sexual advances, this angry reaction is a possibility.
- Binge Drinking: Though most college drinkers would deny that it could happen, young people do sadly die solely from drinking. Consuming a large quantity of alcohol in a short amount of time does not allow your body to filter the toxic liquid from the blood stream and can result in alcohol poisoning. This is a very real threat that your teen may experience due to peer pressure.
Helping your teen develop a sense of individual self esteem and dialoguing about appropriate choices before these situations occur can help you avoid the devastating consequences when alcohol and teenagers mix.