Alcohol Awareness Month

April is a time of rebirth.  It’s a reminder that summer isn’t far away and that spring is still rejuvenating the world.  For high school students, it’s a month closer to another summer vacation, but for some it’s a step closer to an exciting time, graduating high school.

Senior students are excited about graduating and nervous about important homework.  As the end of the school year approaches, for many high school seniors this time of year is party season–a time for them to unwind and have fun with friends they may not see again for a long time after graduation.

Unfortunately at many of these parties, alcohol shows up and if not handled with respect and maturity, alcohol can turn an innocent get-together into a potentially dangerous situation very quickly.

Dangers of Alcohol Use

Many teens are unaware of how fast they can be affected by consuming even just a small amount of alcohol.  They see adults at social events and in the media drinking glasses of wine, experiencing little to no effect or judgment impairment. According to a recent study, many American are actually unaware that they themselves participate in binge drinking1. About 90,000 people every year die from alcohol and over half of them die from injuries and overdoses linked to high blood alcohol levels1.  With these poor points of reference, teens often experiment on their own and face tragic consequences.

Parents as Role Models

Thanfully, our example as parents and role models has a huge influence on our children.  According to an article on the CRC Health website, “If one parent is a heavy drinker, the child’s chances of becoming a heavy drinker increase by two or three times.” However, “parents who use illegal drugs are more likely to hide that fact from their children. Consequently, parental drug habits do not influence children as much as parental drinking and smoking habits.”2

The article goes onto mention that genetics plays a less important part in alcoholism than what was once thought and that during adolescence, it is important for parents to limit or stop drinking so that their actions don’t influence their teens to follow suit.

Talking to Your Kids About Alcohol

For those of you worried that telling your child “don’t drink” is more likely to push them to try drinking, here is some comforting news.  Children of parents that have clear rules against underage drinking generally delayed alcohol use2, 3.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do your children know the signs of alcohol poisoning, about date rape drugs, and how much is too much?
  • If they call you saying they think they’ve drunk alcohol, know they are drunk, or just buzzed, can they rely on you to pick them up?

It is never too early, or too late, to talk to your children about drinking.  Talking with your teens can help them keep, or at least begin to keep, healthier habits they can stick to in college and for the rest of their lives.

For more information:

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1) National Institutes of Health.  Study finds tens of millions of Americans drink alcohol at dangerously high levels.

2) CRC Health. Parents who drink influence their teens to do the same thing.

3) Bourdeau, B., Miller, B., Vanya, M., Duke, M., & Ames, G. (2012). Defining alcohol-specific rules among parents of older adolescents: Moving beyond no tolerance. Journal Of Family Communication, 12(2), 111-128. doi:10.1080/15267431.2011.561140


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