Alcohol is a tricky subject to broach with your teens. If you have the occasional glass of wine with dinner or fruity cocktail on vacation, you know your teen has been exposed to alcohol. If you don’t drink, you know your teen isn’t exposed to it at home but you cannot be sure about his exposure to alcohol anywhere else. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), many parents refrain from talking to their teens about alcohol, which may be the only way to convince them not to drink. Approximately 72 percent of high school students have consumed alcohol during their high school years, as of 2012, notes Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). If you want to convince your teen to forgo alcohol, you need to open up the lines of communication.
Ask your teen open-ended questions about alcohol, such as whether she knows anyone who drinks, what she thinks happens when people drink, and whether or not she has been offered alcohol at a party or by a friend or classmate. According to MADD, you should do this in a conversational tone that does not come across as a lecture or fight if you want it to turn into a productive conversation.
Discuss his assumptions of alcohol and his mistaken beliefs. According to MADD, many teens have some major misconceptions about alcohol that should be addressed. If your teen thinks that playing drinking games that requiring chugging alcohol quickly is okay as long as no one plans on driving anywhere, you need to explain to him that he is wrong. Make sure he understands that he is correct in believing that no one should drive after drinking, but that it isn’t the only bad thing about drinking. According to MADD, when teens chug alcohol, they are risking their lives. Drinking this quickly -- or too much -- can cause alcohol poisoning, which could kill them.
Educate your teen about the other unwanted effects of binge drinking. According to MADD, binge drinking for your teenage son requires drinking five or more alcoholic drinks in one sitting, and four for girls. Additionally, teens that binge drink are more likely to experience physical abuse, sexual assault and injury.
Talk about the dangers of drinking, which include the negative effect it has on your teen’s ability to make good decisions, think quickly and even see accurately. She may think she won’t drink and drive or become hurt by having a few drinks. Point out to her that even one drink can affect her perception and ability to make good decisions, causing her to decide she can drive or become vulnerable to sexual attack because her reflexes are too slow.
Talk about death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 4,700 teens die each year from alcohol -- the number one drug abused by teens. Furthermore, nearly 190,000 teens are taken to the emergency room each year because of alcohol-related injuries or illness. If nothing else, talking to your kids about the risks they are taking with their lives should have the biggest impact when attempting to convince them not to drink.
Point out the other side effects your teen might experience if he chooses to drink alcohol. These side effects, according to the CDC, include poor school performance, hangovers and other illnesses, drug abuse, legal problems, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, trouble at home, trouble at school and even social problems.
Introduce your teen to someone who has suffered the negative effects of drinking. This could be someone who drove drunk and caused an accident that forever injured an innocent person, their friends or even them. It could be someone who lost their spouse, kids and job to drinking. Sometimes the best way to convince teens not to drink is to show them firsthand what can happen to them when they do, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
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