Many teens admit to drinking alcohol before the legal age.
WHY IT’S NOT SAFE:
- Alcohol harms the developing teenage brain more than the adult brain. This is because the young brain has more receptors for alcohol to bind to.
- The part of the brain that restrains risky behavior is not fully developed until the age of 25. Alcohol consumption skews one’s perception of reality, so that whatever decision making abilities a teen does have is affected; this can be hazardous.
- Statistics show that more teens are killed by alcohol than by all illegal drugs combined.
- Drinking alcohol often leads to anxiety and depression.
- More than 4 in 10 people who begin drinking before age 15 eventually become alcoholics.
- Alcohol abuse can lead to yellowing skin, stomach ulcers, severe abdominal pain, and cirrhosis of the liver, kidneys failure and muscle wasting.
- Times of transition, such as the onset of puberty or a parents’ divorce, can lead to alcohol abuse. Children need to know that even when life is upsetting or stressful, drinking alcohol as an escape can make a bad situation worse.
- People who have problems with self-control or low self-esteem are more likely to abuse alcohol. They may not believe that they can handle their problems and frustrations without using something to make them feel better. Teens who lack a sense of connectedness to their families or who feel different in some way (appearance, economic circumstances, etc.,) may also be at risk; sometimes in an attempt to fit in, they may go along with the crowd instead of following what they know to be a safer choice.
- The most common reason for young people’s avoidance of substance use is not wanting to harm the relationships between themselves and the adults who care about them.
- It is important to start discussing alcohol use and abuse with your children at an early age and keep talking about it as they grow up. Open, honest, age-appropriate communication early on sets the stage for your children to come to you later with other difficult topics or problems.
- Educate yourself about alcohol, so you can be a better teacher.
- Try to be conscious of how you can help build your child’s self-esteem. People are more likely to feel good, if you emphasize their strengths and positively reinforce healthy behaviors.
- Teach your children to manage stress in healthy ways, such as by seeking help from a trusted adult or engaging in a favorite activity.
- *Be a good role model. Show that you don’t need to drink to have fun.
- Make a pact with your family that no one should ever drink and drive.
- Make sure your teen knows to never to accept a ride from someone who has been drinking, that they have money for transportation, and that they can call you at any time of night. Some parents find that offering to pick up — no questions asked — helps encourage honesty and calls when they need help.
Information for this article was taken from the following sites: Drugabuse.gove, Youthbeyondblue.com, Alcoholinformation.com, Familydoctor.org.