Statistics show our teens abusing alcohol at very young ages. According to a 2003 study by SAMHSA ( Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) "almost 74% of adults age 21 or older reported that they had started drinking alcohol before the current legal drinking age of 21: 4% started drinking before age 12; 14% started between ages 12-14; 33% started between ages 15-17; and 22% started drinking between ages 18-20." For this reason, it is extremely important to start any prevention methods very early on in your teens youth.
Children learn at a very young age the difference between wrong and right and look to you as parents to teach them the proper behaviors they will need to carry with them for the rest of their lives. Early prevention methods should start at home and should involve as many as the following procedures as possible.
- Develop a good, healthy relationship with your teen - Allow your teen to communicate openly. Let them know that you are there for them when they need you under any circumstances.
- Establish curfews and house rules - Sit down with your teen and come up with some curfews and rules together. If they help establish their own guidelines, they will be more inclined to obey by them. Let them know your expectations of them and that you do not allow any alcohol use for any reason.
- Be consistent and fair with discipline/rules - Don't be too harsh when disciplining your child. Develop rules that are fair and be consistent when applying those rules. Reward and praise your teen for good behavior.
- Be a good example/role model - Children and teenagers look up to you and model the behaviors you set. Try to set good examples of your own drinking habits and show them how you yourself drink or don't drink responsibly.
- Know who your teen's friends/peers are - Get to know who your teen is hanging around with. Make sure they are socializing with other teens who are responsible as well.
- Know where your teen is - Make sure you know where your teen is at all times. Have them call you with their whereabouts so you can keep track of them.
- Keep your teen involved - Have your teen get involved with any activities they may enjoy. Teens who are involved in sports or other activities tend to have higher self-esteem. They will be more inclined to take care of themselves and keep healthy.
- Teach them the facts about alcohol - First, eductate yourself about alcohol as much as you can. Provide your teen with the correct information because misinformation can be very dangerous. Teach them the reasons why alcohol is harmful and what it can do to their bodies/health. Let them know the reasons why alcohol is illegal under 21.
If you believe that your teen has already experimented with alcohol, put a stop to it immediately. Contact your doctor or mental health professional if you need further assistance with alcohol abuse.
Teen Alcohol Abuse Prevention Sources: