Underage drinking – keep your kids safe

Summer’s here, and with it comes an increase in teen drinking. According to Parents: The AntiDrug, a media resource created by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control, more teens will experiment with drinking and drugs during the summer months than during the school year, mostly due to boredom and less supervision.
“Not only is underage drinking illegal, it’s very dangerous,” says Christina Mehal, project director of the Jeff Davis Parish Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, a program dedicated to fighting against underage drinking and drinking and driving, and educating the community on the dangers. “We all know that mixing drinking and driving can be a deadly combination, especially for teens. But even if your teen never gets behind a wheel or rides with a drunk driver, alcohol can still present many dangers, including health and other safety issues. It’s important to dispel the myths about teen drinking.”
Myths about teens and drinking
Myth: Teens drink to have fun.
Truth: According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, in a recent national survey of junior or senior high school students, more than 30 percent of teens drink alone, citing boredom and emotional distress among the reasons they drink.
Myth: Alcohol is not as dangerous as other drugs such as marijuana or cocaine.
Truth: Alcohol is the number-one drug used by teens, and can lead to car crashes, suicides and homicides. In fact, the most likely cause of death of a 16-year-old is alcohol-related.
Myth: If I let my teen drink at home they will be less likely to get in trouble
Truth: Research has shown that teenagers whose parents let them drink at home are actually more likely to drink outside of home and use other drugs. They also have a great risk of developing a substance abuse problem.
Myth: It’s okay for my teen to drink as long as they don’t drive
Truth: Teens do not drink in the same way adults do; they “binge” drink, downing their drinks as quickly and sometimes as many as possible to get drunk. They are also more likely to drink and drive, or ride with another teen who has been drinking.
“Many people think teen drinking is an unavoidable ‘rite of passage,’ but that isn’t true,” says Mehal. “Underage drinking is preventable, not inevitable.”
The Jeff Davis Parish Substance Abuse Prevention Coaltion offers the following tips to help parents stop their teens from drinking:
• Know the truth about alcohol and how it affects teens. You can find more about underage drinking and its effects at www.knowunder21.com
• Establish a summertime curfew for your teen and stick to it.
• Plan activities to keep your teen busy.
• Make sure to schedule fun time together as a family
• When your teen goes out, know where they are going and whom they are going with.
• Get to know your children’s friends, especially those they hang with regularly.
• It’s important to know and watch for the symptoms of teen alcohol use, like: alcohol odor on the breath; drunken behavior or intoxication; difficulty focusing or a glazed appearance of the eyes; uncharacteristically passive, combative or argumentative behavior; irritability; memory loss (blackouts); decline in personal appearance or hygiene; unexplained bruises and accidents; flushed skin; changes in friendships; unexplainable termination of relationships and separation from close family members.
If a teen shows some of these signs it may not mean that they have a drinking problem, but each sign is a reason for a parent to look closely at their teen’s potential problems.
Want to win great prizes and learn more about underage drinking and what you can do to make a difference? Visit the Jeff Davis Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/21is21.

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Posted by on Jun 11 2011. Filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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