Teens are exposed to an excessive amount of promotion for alcoholic products like beer, wine, vodka, and sweetened or flavored alcoholic drinks daily. They are bombarded with glamorous and macho images of alcohol consumption on television, at sporting events, and at concerts. These constant messages play a role in making alcohol the most popular teen drug.
We know that teens are experimenting with alcohol at earlier ages than ever before and teens that are consuming alcohol will most likely do so in excess. This means that your child is drinking with the intent to get drunk, which is also known as binge drinking. According to the US Surgeon General “When youth between the ages of twelve and twenty consume alcohol, they drink on average about five drinks per occasion about six times a month.” Binge drinking can cause your teen to display uncharacteristic and dangerous behaviors. The decisions they make after binge drinking will often have serious and life changing consequences.
Teen alcohol abuse or binge drinking can lead to unprotected sex with several partners, driving while drunk, poor grades and sexual assault. Alcohol consumption is one of the top three causes of teen deaths. It can also harm their brain development; affect their memory, attention span and spatial skills. The younger a child starts to drink the more likely he/she is to have serious social problems later in life.
The key to prevention is being actively involved in your teen’s life. Talk to your children when they return home from hanging out with friends. Make it clear that drinking and driving is not acceptable; let them know that you will always be available for a safe ride home if they need it. Scientific evidence suggests that teen drinkers are less sensitive to the sedating and discoordinating consequences of drinking alcohol. Even if your teen doesn’t look drunk after a night out, it doesn’t mean they haven’t been drinking. As a parent, always remember that you have a major impact on the choices that your children make in their daily lives, especially during the preteen and teen years.
How often do you talk to your teens about the dangers and consequences of drinking alcohol? Tell us in the comment section below.