JULY 7TH, 2015

33470854_sOf the 25-million American adults who drink alcohol, 45 percent of them started drinking when they were teenagers. Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in the United States. And yes, it is a drug! It is widely advertised, easily bought and glamorized on television. Also, many parents drink and their teens see it. For various reasons parents seem to tolerate teen drinking more than the use of any other drug. Although, the legalization of marijuana is changing that too. Parents seem to see this as a “rite of passage” and connect it with their own youthful experiences. The fact is not everyone who drinks becomes an alcoholic. But teaching your teenager to “drink responsibly” does send a message that underscores its possible dangers and the fact that underage drinking is illegal!

Parents need to teach their children the dangers of alcohol just like they would talk about the dangers of any other drugs. Alcohol is addicting! It can damage the body, slow reflexes and impede judgement. It can lead to risky behaviors and be a gateway to other drugs. Family communication is key. Every 15 minutes a teenager dies from drug use or drinking. Make sure your “don’t do drugs” talk includes the drugs in the liquor cabinet and the refrigerator? Know that hosting a party for underage drinking is also illegal and has serious consequences for you.

You have the most influence in your teenager’s life. Even with all the social media banging down the door today if you have open communication with your teenager that will go a long way in keeping them safe. Demonstrating responsible drinking and good judgement regarding alcohol is worth more than a thousand lectures. If your teenager goes to a party and you are concerned about drinking; call the parents hosting the party. Firm parental limits are necessary. The point is not to berate your teenager or to mete out harsh punishment but rather to make it clear that use of alcohol is not permitted and will not be tolerated.

Remember when talking to your child to be a good listener. Make sure that the conversation is age-appropriate and that you offer praise for effort. Make sure to ask questions, validate your teenager’s feelings and don’t yell at them. Teenagers are curious and are looking for answers so provide them. This will make life easier for all involved and will help keep your teenagers safe.

This blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical or psychiatric advice for individual conditions or treatment and does not substitute for a medical or psychiatric examination. A psychiatrist must make a determination about any treatment or prescription. Dr. Paul does not assume any responsibility or risk for the use of any information contained within this blog.

Originally posted here