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None for the Road:  Preventing Alcohol Abuse in Teens

Although it is illegal in the United States, most teens still get access to alcohol.  The goal of talking to teens about drinking is to encourage them to put it off until they are ready, to resist peer pressure to drink, and to create a safe escape if they fail.  Start by warning them about the consequences of drinking at a young age. 

  • Because the human brain is not fully developed until the early 20s, alcohol can have a permanent impact on the developing brain.
  • The younger a person starts to drink, the more likely they are to struggle with alcoholism.
  • Accidents related to drinking are the number one cause of death among teenagers.

So, how can a teen avoid pressure to drink if he doesn't want to?  First, encourage them to make positive friendships with others who share their values.  Then make sure that you know who they're with, where they're going and what adult supervision is being provided.  Keep any alcohol in your home locked up.  Remind you teen that you do a lot of things he doesn't do, like hold down a job, own a home, etc.  Some things, like drinking alcohol, are OK for adults but not for kids. 

In addition to warning your teen against drinking, make sure he knows that if he makes a mistake, you are ready to forgive.  Emphasize that if he is somewhere and has been drinking, he must not drive home, or ride with anyone else who has been drinking. Assure him that you will come anywhere to get him, and will not yell, scream or otherwise carry on.  You can always talk about the incident later, but it is far better to have to pick up a drunk kid than to bury a dead one.

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