Talk Early, Talk Often: Parents can make a difference in teen alcohol use

April 14, 2016 | Health, Healthy Living

More than 80% of young people ages 10-18 say their parents are the leading influence on their decision to drink or not drink. Studies show the same percentage, (80%) of kids say they are less likely to drink when they receive the message from their parents that underage drinking is completely unacceptable¹.

Each April, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) sponsors Alcohol Awareness Month in order to increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma, and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues. This year, NCADD’s theme is “Talk Early, Talk Often: Parents can make a difference in teen alcohol use.”

Most teens disapprove of substance abuse and perceive great risks associated with substance abuse (81.6 % of teens disapprove of binge drinking and 66.4% disapprove of heavy drinking).

21.9 % that almost 1 in 5 adolescents reported that they rode during the previous 30 days with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.

Here are some tips to start the conversation:

  1. Show you disapprove of underage drinking. Whether they show it or not, kids really are listening so be sure to send a strong and clear message.
  2. Show you care about your child’s happiness and well-being.
  3. Be a good source of information about alcohol. You don’t want your kids to be learning about alcohol from friends, the internet or the media.
  4. Show you’re paying attention and will notice if your child drinks. You don’t want to pry, but let them know you won’t “look the other way.”
  5. Build your child’s skills and strategies for avoiding underage drinking. Talk to your child ways to resist peer pressure. Get the point across that confidence is cool.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be an all-inclusive conversation; an ongoing, open dialogue is the best way to reinforce your message.

¹MADD/Nationwide survey, 2014