Teen Drinking is Underage Drinking: Prom and Graduation Parties are No Exceptions

MADDPower

April is Alcohol Awareness Month at the same time teens are getting ready for many celebrations including school being over.

It is that time of the year and teens are excited about their proms and graduation.

With this usually comes celebration, but remember, drinking age is usually 21 years-old.

Parents need to encourage their teens to make smart choices.  There is the POWER of PARENTS!

Steps you can take at home:

Help your son or daughter steer clear of the dangers of underage drinking with these five steps:

Step 1: Think of yourself as a coach

Your role in preventing underage drinking is similar to coaching. You can help your teen by

  • Sharing information
  • Discussing choices and monitoring behavior
  • Helping your teen anticipate and handle challenging situations
  • Cheering your teen on to make smart, safe choices

Step 2: Get busy communicating

Begin a series of conversations with your son or daughter—proactively, before he or she gets caught drinking—about how:

  • Alcohol is a drug with serious sedative effects
  • Drinking has health dangers and other risks for young people
  • It is illegal to drink before the age of 21
  • You want your teen to be safe and respect the law
  • Your teen can plan ways to resist peer pressure to drink

Step 3: Keep track of your teen
You need to know what your teen does after school, at night, and on weekends—and with whom.

  • Agree on rules, limits, and consequences
  • Monitor all in-person and online activities
  • Know your teen’s schedule
  • Make sure he or she has your permission for activities
  • Talk to parents of kids with whom your teen spends time
  • Enforce consequences consistently

Step 4: Show respect and caring
Your teen will respond better when you

  • Listen respectfully to his or her ideas and concerns
  • Explain that rules, limits, and consequences are meant to protect them
  • Help your teen think logically and make smart choices
  • Remind your teen how much you love and care about them

Step 5: Be a positive role model
Your teen will be most receptive to your guidance if you lead by example and act responsibly.

Source:  MADD Power of Parents

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Talking to Your Teens About Drinking and Peer Pressure

April is Alcohol Awareness Month.  It is a great time to start the conversation and in many cases it is never too early.

Here are ten questions that are asked frequently by parents of kids, tweens and teens:

1)  At what age would you suggest parents start talking to kids about alcohol? Should parents bring it up independently, or wait for their children to ask before broaching the topic?

Like with any sensitive and serious subject, as soon as a parent believes their child is mature enough to understand the topic (alcohol) is when they should start discussions.  It can start by asking them their thoughts on alcohol, listen to them carefully and remember, never criticize.  Start the discussion at their level and start learning from each other.

Education is the key to prevention and can help your child to better understand the risk and dangers of alcohol from an early age.

Waiting for a crisis to happen, such as living with an alcoholic or having an issue with a family member that has a drinking problem is not the time to start talking to the child.  With this type of situation, the subject should be approached as early as the child can possibly understand alcohol and substance use.

2)  If you’ve had bad experiences with alcohol in the past (ie you or a friend/family member has battled alcoholism or similar issues), should you be open about them with your kid? If so, when is the right age for kids to hear this information? How open should you be?

This is a very tricky question.  On one hand we value honesty, however when a teenager likes to throw it back at you when they decide to experiment and it goes too far is when you realize you may want to pick and choose what stories from your past you want to share.

If you have a family member that has battled with addiction, alcoholism or similar issues, there is nothing like firsthand experiences (especially those people that are related to them) to help them understand how harmful this disease can be and in some cases, deadly.    I think it is very important that your teenager know these stories and how it relates to them – especially as they go into middle school and high school and start feeling the peer pressure from to others to experiment with different substances.

3)  Are there any websites or books that you’d recommend having parents read or showing kids (at any age)? Are certain types of information better for each age group (ie maybe children respond better to broad themes and videos, tweens respond well to anecdotes and stories, and teens respond better to hard facts about drinking and health)?

Ask Listen Learn: Is a fantastic interactive and educational website created by The Century Council For Underage Drinking.  This site if full of facts, resources, videos downloads, games as well as more links that offer extended information.  This site is targeted for all ages from younger kids to teens.

The Cool Spot: This is another great website for tweens and teens.  This deals with information on alcohol and helping teens and young teens resist peer pressure.

Smashed:  Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas – This is an excellent book for both parents and teens of a true story.  It was a NYT’s best seller.  Eye-opening and utterly gripping, Koren Zailckas’s story is that of thousands of girls like her who are not alcoholics—yet—but who routinely use booze as a shortcut to courage and a stand-in for good judgment.  This book is more for teenagers and parents.

4)  Do you think that schools and/or the media do a good job of warning kids about the dangers of alcohol consumption, or do they receive mixed messages about drinking? How might you incorporate your thoughts about this into a conversation with your child?

Schools and teachers do what they are paid to do, and in most cases, especially with dedicated teachers and employees, will go above their duty and do more.  However it is the parent’s responsibility to continue to talk to their child about the risks and dangers of alcohol, as well as the peer pressure they may face in school and in their community.

Though many parents are busy today, some working two jobs, many are single parents – there are few excuses not to take the time to talk to your kids about these subjects.  Whether it is Internet safety, substance abuse, safe sex, or simply homework – parenting is your priority.  I am not saying this is easy, I know for a fact, it isn’t.  I was a single parent with two teenagers, it was very hard.  I think today is even more challenging since there is more obstacles to contend with than there was even a decade ago.

The good news is the most recent study by The Century Council says that 83% of youth cite parents as the leading influence in their decisions not to drink alcohol.  Another words – our kids are listening and parents are doing their job parenting!

5)  How often should you talk to kids about alcohol, and does it vary by age? (i.e. less frequently for younger children, more frequently for tweens, and most frequently for teenagers?)

As frequently as you have an opportunity.  If there is a reason for it – if there is a conversation about it, expand on it – don’t run from it.  This is for both tweens and teens.  As far as little children are concerned, again it depends on their maturity and what your family dynamics consist of.

 6)  If you drink yourself, is it ever a good idea to allow kids to drink with you (i.e. a glass of wine at dinner) to de-stigmatize alcohol and help them be responsible? Or is it instead better to forbid them from consuming alcohol altogether until they are 21?

Alcohol is illegal for underage drinkers.  However there are some that believe that a sip of alcohol isn’t be a big deal.  I believe this is a personal decision, but if you have alcoholism that runs in your family, it is something that I would caution you on.

The other side to this is some people believe it would eliminate them from trying it at a friend’s house where they could get into trouble such as drinking and driving.  I think this goes back to being a personal choice on for your family.  It goes back to talking to your teen – communication.  Keep the lines open!

7)  If you suspect your child’s friends are drinking or pressuring him/her to drink, should you stop allowing your child to hang out with them?

Communication.  Talk to your child about these friends.  Find out what is going on and help your child see that maybe the choices he/she is making are not in their best interest.  It is better if your teen comes to the conclusion not to hang out with these friends rather than their parent telling them not to.

8)  Should the discussion be different for a daughter versus a son? How might you talk to the different sexes differently about alcohol (i.e. maybe you’d warn girls more about not having people slip something in their drinks at parties, while you’d warn boys more about alcohol and hazing/pranks.)

I don’t want parents to get confused on gender and alcoholism.  It doesn’t discriminate.  A girl or a boy can be slipped a drug in their drink at a party – just like a girl or boy can be coerced into participating into a mean prank of hazing. 

 With this, whether you have a son or daughter, you need to speak with them about the risks of leaving any drink alone and coming back for it.  Keep in mind, you don’t have to have an alcoholic beverage to put a powdery substance into it (another words even a soda can be spiked).

The important issue is they understand that these things can happen and they can happen to them.

9)  What should you do if you suspect your teenager is drinking against your advice?

Communication.  I know it is easier said than done (and I sound like a broken record), however it is the best tool we have and the most effective.  As hard as it can be, talking with a teenager is difficult, but we have to continue to break down those walls until they talk to us and tell us why they are turning to alcohol.

If you aren’t able to get through, please don’t be ashamed or embarrassed if you can’t, you are not alone.  Again, teen years are the most trying times.  Reach out to an adolescent therapist or counselor.  Hopefully your teen will agree to go. If not, may you have a family member or good friend your teen will confide in.  It so important to get your teen to talk about why he/she is drinking.  Don’t give up – whether it is a guidance counselor, sports coach, someone he/she is willing to open up to.

Parents can’t allow this to escalate and only believe it is a phase.  Maybe it is – but maybe it isn’t.  Be proactive.  Don’t wait for it to reach the addiction level. Don’t be a parent in denial.  There is help and you don’t have to be ashamed to ask for it.

There are many typical teens that end up being addicts – don’t let your teenager be one of them.

 10)  Could you offer one specific tip for each age group (elementary school, tween/middle school, and high school) that I may have missed or that people might not think of?

For all ages, parents need to realize how important it is to be a role model.  As I mentioned earlier, 83% of children are listening and are influenced by their parents.  That is a large number.  So continue keeping those lines of communication open – starting early and going into their college years!

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Teen and College Drinking: Sobering Facts

Alcohol can kill.  It is that simple.

It is easy for educators and parents to become overdramatic when warning young students about the dangers of alcohol.

Flooded with extensive media coverage of seemingly every college drinking death, their genuine concern can become panic.

The truth is, most college students who drink do not binge, and suicide may even be a higher cause of death among this demographic. Nevertheless, one alcohol-related student death is too many, especially since it’s so easily prevented.

With that in mind, here are 10 sobering reminders why you should drink responsibly.

1) Nearly 2,000 students die from alcohol-related injuries each year.: Every year, an estimated 1,825 students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from injuries sustained by excessive alcohol consumption. This works out as nearly one death for every two colleges in America. Incredibly, another 599,000 are unintentionally injured due to the effects of alcohol. Out of 4,140 colleges in the U.S., both public and private, this factors out to 145 injuries for every single campus. (It should be noted, however, that the methodology for finding these statistics has been questioned.)

2) College drinking deaths rose 26.7% from 1999 to 2005: Deaths of students from alcohol poisoning or alcohol-related accidents are certainly nothing new. College administrations have been making strides in educating students about the dangers of binge drinking for years, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be having a positive effect on the number of student drinking deaths. On the contrary, the number is actually rising. The 1,825 deaths calculated in 2005 were an increase of almost 27% from the 1,440 deaths calculated in 1998.

3) Freshmen account for more than one-third of college student deaths: When it comes to alcohol-related deaths, the first year of college is easily the most dangerous. A USA Today study done in 2006 found that although freshman account for only about 24% of the total population of college students, they make up much more than their share of the number of deaths. For example, they accounted for 40% of undergraduate suicides, 47% of undergrad deaths on campus, and half of deaths from falls out of windows and off rooftops. Of these deaths, one out of five was found to have been drinking.

4) Fifty-three percent of college students have experienced depression, and less than one-third seek help: With all the pressure, the separation from family and familiar surroundings, and the lack of sleep college students are faced with, depression is a very common ailment on campus. More than half of college students will experience some form of it, and the majority of them will not seek help. The answer for many is to drown their sorrows in alcohol. A 1998 study found as many as 1.5% of students tried to commit suicide because of drinking and/or drug use.

5) At least one student has died from drinking in college hazing rituals every year for more than four decades: Hazing goes back to at least the 1800s and possibly even before. It’s always been used as a way of putting a person through a trial to earn membership in a select group. But to put it bluntly, if the person is killed, what’s the point? Since 1975, thousands of lives have been needlessly thrown away in hazing rituals, devastating their families and usually spelling the end for the organizations they were trying to join.

6) In 82% of hazing deaths, a huge amount of alcohol consumed is involved: Alcohol is sometimes referred to as “liquid courage,” and it’s plain to see why the vast majority of college student athletes and pledges to fraternities and sororities would need to be brave when going through hazing. It can involve beatings, public humiliation, or simply being forced to chug copious amounts of alcohol. As one researcher, professor Hank Nuwer, put it, “We’re talking levels which would be approaching, basically half of your blood system being filled with liquor.”

7) Chico State University student Matthew Carrington died from binging on water : Because of the amount of negative attention hazing has received in recent years, many schools have banned alcohol from Greek functions. To get around this, many college groups have taken to forcing pledges to drink huge amounts of water or milk, either of which can be lethal in large quantities. In 2009, Matthew Carrington died after water absorbed into his blood after his fraternity mates forced him to drink from a five-gallon jug of water that they kept refilling.

8) Eighty-three of the college student deaths from 1999 to 2005 were of underage students: There is a reason the U.S. has a legal drinking age. Hopefully, at least, people over 20 are better equipped to handle peer pressure and know when to call it quits on a night of drinking. They also have two or three years of college under their belt and don’t need to hit the first party they see and get as drunk as humanly possible. But 83 underclassmen died in six years as a result of alcohol poisoning because they weren’t mature enough to drink responsibly.

9) At a 0.15 BAC, chances of a car crash due to drunk driving are 200 times higher: Although the number of deaths due to college students drinking and driving may have been overestimated in the past, there’s no shortage of students still getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. One in five students admitted to driving drunk in a four-year study that concluded in 2010. No states allow driving at a blood-alcohol level over 0.08%. Even at this level, drivers are still about 10 times more likely to be in a (potentially fatal) car crash.

10) A Colorado State University student died of alcohol poisoning with a BAC of 0.436: On a Friday in 2004, Samantha Spady started drinking at 6 p.m. and consumed an estimated 40 cups of beer and shots of vodka. When she was found the next day, her body had a blood-alcohol level of 0.436, an astronomical figure that the coroner said was probably higher earlier in the evening of her death. The most sobering part of her story is that her friends had no indication she had been poisoned by alcohol and was dying; they had left her in a room “to sleep it off.”

Source:  Online Colleges

April is Alcohol Prevention Awareness Month.  You can never talk to your teens or tweens enough about the risks of drinking.

PACT Prevention Coalition of St. Johns County offers parent resources and help for parents with teens struggling with substance abuse or if you suspect your child is using drugs or drinking.

Join me on Facebook  and follow me on Twitter for more information and educational articles on parenting today’s teenagers.

Drunkorexia: Teen and Underage Drinking that is Dangerous and Deadly

At first, “drunkorexia” may sound like kind of a funny word, jokingly made up to describe a situation in which college students and others forgo food in order to be able to afford more alcohol and feel higher effects of alcohol on an empty stomach. But what some may brush off as crazy college-kid behavior is actually a serious problem that can have highly damaging consequences both in long- and short-term health.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped college students from engaging in this unhealthy trend, and a study at the University of Missouri-Columbia indicated that one in six students had practiced drunkorexia within the last year. Typically, drunkorexia is done by women; the study showed that three out of four drunkorexia respondents were female.

Students may not realize that drunkorexia is incredibly damaging to their health, but the fact remains that the practice puts them at risk for problems like sexually transmitted diseases, malnutrition, and even seizures and comas. Specifically, the University of Missouri study indicates that drunkorexia may lead to:

  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • HIV
  • Drunk driving
  • Injury risk
  • Perpetrating or being a victim of sexual assault
  • Passing out
  • Malnutrition
  • Cognitive disabilities
  • Heart problems
  • Seizures
  • Comas
  • Organ failures

All of the possible effects are disturbing, but perhaps the most worrisome are heart problems and cognitive disabilities that can stem from drunkorexia-induced malnutrition. STDs, injury, or sexual assault are without a doubt difficult to bounce back from, but malnutrition-induced heart problems and cognitive disabilities are something you just can’t take back. Cognitive problems are especially disturbing for college students, as they can result in “difficulty concentrating, studying, and making decisions.” These are long-term health issues brought on by drunkorexia that can follow a college student for the rest of her life. That is, assuming that the student survives past the possibility of seizures, comas, and organ failure.

So it seems that a practice that may be approached lightheartedly is in fact a very serious problem that doesn’t just stop with fun (and possible weight loss) one night. Used as a regular practice, drunkorexia can scar you for life and even end in death. And although the long-term effects are certainly frightening, the short-term possibilities of drunkorexia aren’t incredibly easy hurdles to get over, either. Just one night of drunkorexia can have serious consequences, with higher levels of intoxication and starvation putting students at risk for dangerous behavior.

At high levels of intoxication, students lose the ability to make good decisions, which can lead to dangerous situations like having unprotected sex, or even being involved in a rape, driving drunk, and becoming injured as a result of stunts, fights, or simply an inability to function properly. In addition to these risks, just one night of intense drinking on an empty stomach can lead to blackouts, hospitalization, and death from alcohol poisoning.

Clearly, drunkorexia has serious and lasting consequences, even for students who aren’t repeat offenders.

Source:  Online College

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Teen Drinking: A Serious Concern for Parents

Summer is here!

This time of year often comes with an increase in free time and a decrease in adult supervision.

As your child becomes more and more curious about alcohol, he or she may turn to you for answers and advice. Use this opportunity to start an open, honest conversation about drinking. Since some questions can be difficult to answer, it’s important to be prepared.

Q)  I got invited to a party, can I go?

  • A)  Ask your child if an adult will be present at the party, or if he or she thinks children will be drinking. Remind your child that even just being at a party where underage people are drinking can get them in trouble. Use this time to establish or reinforce your rules about alcohol, and what behavior you expect.

Q)  Why do you drink?

  • A)  Explain to your child your reasons for drinking – whether it’s to enhance a meal, share good times with friends, or celebrate a special occasion. Point out that if you choose to drink, it’s always in moderation. Tell your child that some people shouldn’t drink at all, including children who are underage.

Q)  Did you drink when you were a child?

  • A)  If you drank as a teenager, experts recommend that you give an honest answer.1 Explain why you were tempted to try alcohol and why underage drinking is dangerous. You could even give your child an example of an embarrassing or painful moment that occurred because of your drinking.

It is important that parents initiate these conversations as often as possible.  You may believe your child is not listening, however eventually you will realize – they are.

Drinking and driving kills.  Drinking and driving can also result in life changing ways.  As pictured above, Jacqui Saburio was changed forever by a drunk driver.

Jacqui had planned to help her father run his air conditioning factory in Caracas, Venezuela after she finished her industrial engineering studies at the university there. But first she wanted to learn to speak to English. She enrolled in a private language school in Austin, Texas. She had been in the United States for less than a month when her new friends coaxed her into going to a birthday party with them one Saturday night.  Read her full story here.

According to the 2010 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey, 50.3% of middle and high school students have not used alcohol in their lifetime, 75.5% have not smoked cigarettes and 74.8% have not used marijuana. Click here for more information.

Parent Help: Power of Parents – It’s Your Influence

Yes, parents still do have an influence on their teens.

The day has arrived when many are getting ready to bring in the new year and have plans to do it in their own way.  Many include alcohol a way to celebrate, and as although underage drinking is illegal, it is a fact many teens will be drinking.

As a parent, what can you do?  Communication is always key, reminding them of the dangers of drinking and driving and the fact that buzzed driving is drunk driving.  Parents may want to be in denial that their teen would consume alcohol or other substances that impair them, but remember, never say never.  Always be proactive, never stop talking about it.

According to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) someone is killed in a drunk driving crash every 50 minutes; someone is injured almost every minute.  Join them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

FACT: Drivers 15 to 20 years old have nearly 20-percent more fatal car crashes than any other age group.

Remind your teens:

  • “No drinking alcohol.”
  • “Buckle up.”
  • “Slow down and respect the speed limit.”
  • “No phone calls or text messaging.”
  • “Here’s how to recognize danger on the road…”

Communication can never stop, even when your teen is tired of hearing of it, never stop.  Unfortunately it only takes one tragic accident to wake-up a teenager to realize that drunk driving or buzzed driving can kill and all the lives will be changed forever.

Watch the video.

Happy 2011, end 2010 on a safe and healthy note!

Read more.