HealthyChildren.org recently ran an article “Why to Have the Alcohol Talk Early: A Pediatrician-Mom’s Perspective,” and it’s a must-read for any parent or caregiver.
Here’s the gist: Alcohol is the most abused substance by teens (even teens from a loving family) and its abuse leads to the most injuries and deaths from accidents, homicides and suicides among teens, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
As parents, “you are the strongest force to protect your children from alcohol abuse,” wrote author Kathleen Berchelmann, MD, FAAP. Research shows that 80 percent of teens say their parents are the biggest influence on whether or not they drink, so it’s never too early to start the conversation.
In fact, Berchelmann and the AAP both recommend beginning the dialogue with children as young as age 9. You can tell them stories of how you’ve seen alcohol hurt people and/or use the below statistics cited in the article:
- Underage drinking increases your chances of having a drinking problem later: Adults who started using alcohol before age 15 are almost 6 times as likely to have alcohol dependence or abuse than those who first drank at age 21 or older, according to SAMHSA’s 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
- Drinking can hurt your grades: About 25 percent of college students who drink experience lower grades, according to a study by The Harvard School of Public Health. What’s more, young people’s brains keep developing well into their 20s and alcohol can alter this development, potentially causing cognitive or learning problems and/or make the brain more prone to alcohol dependence.
- Drinking is dangerous: A large study showed that nearly 600,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 were unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, alcohol is a factor in the deaths of 4,358 young people under age 21 each year, including motor vehicle crashes, alcohol poisoning, falls, drowning and suicide.
Creating a Healthy Mindset About Alcohol
Here are a few more tips on how you can play a positive role in shaping your child’s attitude toward drinking, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:
- If you do choose to drink alcohol, drinking responsibly.
- Don’t make alcohol available.
- Get to know your children’s friends as well as their parents.
- Connect with other parents about sending clear messages regarding the importance of not drinking alcohol.
- Supervise all parties to make sure there is no alcohol present.
- Encourage kids to participate in healthy and fun activities that don’t involve alcohol.
Ask About Our Programs for At-Risk Youth
Family Recovery Specialists provides programs for adolescents and young adults that are experimenting or abusing alcohol but may not have a more serious problem. We also treat young people that show evidence of a true addiction. Parents are required to participate in these programs and receive education and coaching on how to parent their children more effectively, discouraging further alcohol use in their children. To learn more, call today: 305-595-7378.