Talking To Teens About Alcohol Use

April is about alcohol, and has been since 1987. Naturally, we are not suggesting that April is a month to drink alcohol, but rather a time to have an open, honest conversation about: alcohol use, misuse, abuse and the disease of alcoholism. Alcohol use disorder affects millions of Americans (16.6 million adults ages 18 and older in 2013), and wreaks havoc on the lives of those who are related to an alcoholic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly 88,000 people lose their life from alcohol-related causes every year in the United States; alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death.

Alcohol is often a major part of what could be referred to as the “teenage experience,” every weekend adolescents will come together to imbibe. It’s a behavior that is often shrugged off as just something teens and young adults do; many parents even condone underage drinking. Additionally, adolescents often engage in the practice of “binge drinking,” consuming 5 or more drinks for men, 4 or more drinks for women in about 2 hours, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Binge drinking is extremely dangerous and can lead to an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

Failing to talk with teenagers about the dangers of alcohol can spark a chain reaction of negative life events. Teens have all kinds of perceptions about alcohol, many of which are wholly inaccurate. Parents who take the time to educate themselves about alcohol have the power to impart what they learn on their children, which can shield them from experiencing the potential dangers of alcohol use and abuse – including:

  • Fatal Car Wrecks
  • Alcohol Poisoning
  • Educational Failure
  • Addiction

The longer children delay drinking and drug use, the less likely they are to develop any problems associated with it. That’s why it is so important to help your child make smart decisions about alcohol and drugs.”

Research shows that adolescents who talk about alcohol and drugs with their parents are 50% less likely to use. At Family Recovery Specialists we realize the importance of having this conversation. Our “At Risk Program” is designed for adolescents and young adults that are experimenting or abusing substances but may not have a more serious problem. These individuals typically are in the early stages of substance use and do not meet criteria for substance dependence. This program is more intensive than an individual/family therapy approach and provides education for the parents and the child, as well as individual therapy, family therapy and a group component. The program also explores the underlying reasons for a child’s experimentation with substances and teaches tools for making better decisions and avoiding further substance use.

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