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

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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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.

Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: Eyeballing – A Dangerous Teen Drinking Game

Eyeballing. Yes, ‘vodka eyeballing to be exact.  Another dangerous game being played by teenagers.  Some teens claim it gets them drunk faster. Doctors say, however, it’s not worth it. They said the alcohol has a corrosive effect and can lead to an eye condition called conjunctivitis, an irritation of the cornea, or worse.

There are two ways people can do it. The first is with a shot glass. However, because the name of the game is all about getting drunk quickly, some people just take a bottle of booze and pour it straight to the eye.

According to News4Jax, “It can lead to severe and ultimately permanent blindness,” said Dr. Amit Chokshi, a local ophthalmologist.

What can parents do?  Talk to your teens.  Education and communication is the key to prevention.

Related articles:

Trunking
Rainbow Game
SNAP Game
Dangerous Games – GASP
Parent’s – The Anti-Drug
Fishbowl Parties

Read more.

Parents Universal Resources Experts – Sue Scheff: Underage Drinking – Too Smart to Start – Education is Prevention

April is Alcohol Awareness Month.  No matter what time of year, how many parents actually know when, how and why their kids are drinking? A new study suggests that teens are heavily influenced by the drinking habits of their friends.

Too Smart To Start is a public education initiative sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Through this initiative, SAMHSA provides research-based strategies and materials to professionals and volunteers at the community level to help them conduct an underage alcohol use prevention program. The materials are designed to educate youth about the harms of alcohol use and to support parents and caregivers as they participate in their children’s activities.
 

Learn about the facts vs myths of underage drinking. Here are a few examples:

Myth: Alcohol isn’t as harmful as other drugs.
FACT: Alcohol increases your risk for many deadly diseases, such
as cancer. Drinking too much alcohol too quickly can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can kill you.

Myth: Adults drink, so kids should be able to drink too.
FACT: A young person’s brain and body are still growing. Drinking
alcohol can cause learning problems or lead to adult alcoholism. People who begin drinking by age 15 are five times more likely to abuse or become dependent on alcohol than those who begin drinking after age 20.

Myth: Drinking alcohol will make me cool.
FACT: There’s nothing cool about stumbling around, passing out,
or puking on yourself. Drinking alcohol also can cause bad breath and weight gain.

Take the time to visit Too Smart to Start and find out more about preventing underage drinking.

Be an educated parent.  Start talking before they start drinking!

Read more – click here.

Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff – Dangers of Teen Drinking

teensdrinkingAre you concerned about your teen or tween drinking?  Do you smell alcohol on their breathe?  Maybe they experimented for the first time – maybe they will get really sick and promise never again.  Or maybe they really enjoyed it!  Parents need to step up and educate their pre-teens and teens of the dangers of alcoholism, especially if there is a family member that suffers from this.  Many believe this is a genetic disease, but I encourage all parents to whether this runs in the family or not, to be aware of this peer pressure.  Much of this substance abuse can be started by peer pressure – a desire to fit in.  To be cool.  Well, be a cool parent  and learn about this and talk to your kids about it before it becomes a problem.

Source:  We Don’t Serve Teens

Teens Don’t Just Drink.  They Drink to Excess.

More than 10 percent of eighth graders, 22 percent of sophomores, and 26 percent of seniors report recent binge drinking (5+ drinks on the same occasion).

Statistics show that the majority of current teen drinkers got drunk in the previous month. That includes 54 percent of the high school sophomores who drink and 65 percent of the high school seniors who drink.

 

Underage drinking is linked to injury and risky behavior.

Reducing underage drinking can reduce drinking-related harm.

Brain Development and Alcohol Abuse

  • Research indicates that the human brain continues to develop into a person’s early 20’s, and that exposure of the developing brain to alcohol may have long-lasting effects on intellectual capabilities and may increase the likelihood of alcohol addiction.
  • The age when drinking starts affects future drinking problems. For each year that the start of drinking is delayed, the risk of later alcohol dependence is reduced by 14 percent.

Drinking and Driving

  • Car crashes are the leading cause of death among people ages 15 to 20. About 1,900 people under 21 die every year from car crashes involving underage drinking.
  • Young people are more susceptible to alcohol-induced impairment of their driving skills. Drinking drivers aged 16 to 20 are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as drinking drivers who are 21 or older.

Suicide

  • Alcohol use interacts with conditions like depression and stress, and contributes to an estimated 300 teen suicides a year.
  • High school students who drink are twice as likely to have seriously considered attempting suicide, as compared to nondrinkers. High school students who binge drink are four times as likely to have attempted suicide, as compared to nondrinkers.

Sexual Behavior

  • Current teen drinkers are more than twice as likely to have had sexual intercourse within the past three months than teens who don’t drink.
  • Higher drinking levels increase the likelihood of sexual activity.
  • Adolescents who drink are more likely to engage in risky sexual activities, like having sex with someone they don’t know or failing to use birth control.

Other Risks

  • Teens who drink alcohol are more likely than nondrinkers to smoke marijuana, use inhalants, or carry a weapon.
  • Binge drinking substantially increases the likelihood of these activities.

Academic Performance

  • A government study published in 2007 shows a relationship between binge drinking and grades. Approximately two-thirds of students with “mostly A’s” are non-drinkers, while nearly half of the students with “mostly D’s and F’s” report binge drinking. It is not clear, however, whether academic failure leads to drinking, or vice versa.

For further information on the risks of adolescent alcohol use, visit the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Don’t serve alcohol to teens.

It’s unsafe. It’s illegal. It’s irresponsible.