Know the Facts:
Drinking is something that many adults do socially. Although drinking alcohol is illegal in the United States under the age of 21, many parents are relaxed about this rule. In other countries, teens can legally consume alcohol. Many times light drinking can seem harmless. However, evidence shows that drinking during high school leads to more serious “binge drinking” or heavy consumption of alcohol. This can lead to injury, impairment and death.
- Over ten million adolescents under the legal drinking age admit to consuming alcohol.
- 25% of high school students have experienced a black-out do to drinking excessively
- The teenage brain is affected very differently from alcohol than the brain of an adult including causing memory loss and learning disabilities.
- Studies show that children who drink by age 15 are more likely to develop alcoholism that those that wait until the legal drinking age.
- More than 50% of college students admit to drinking and the driving
Warning Signs and Symptoms:
Although you might try to be with your child all of the time, the truth is that at some point that will be unsupervised. It is during that time that many adolescents are introduced to alcohol. Minors have no trouble accessing alcohol on their own. Thus it is important to learn the early signs of drinking:
- First you should watch out for changes in behavior. Is your child spending more time unsupervised? Is your child hanging out with a new group of friends?
- Next you should you look for aberrations in character. Keep a close eye on school performance and take note of grades that suddenly slip, late assignments or tardiness.
- Pay attention to your child’s mood. Aggressive behavior is a sign of alcohol abuse as is depression and anxiety.
Most underage drinking tends to occur in a short amount of time causing children to become highly intoxicated and running the risk of alcohol poisoning. Alchol poisoning is causes a deprivation of oxygen in the brain and can be fatal. It is critical to know the signs of intoxication:
- Vomiting, caused by an irritation of the stomach lining, is a sign of heavy drinking
- Dizziness and loss of coordination are also a common sign of intoxication. Look for motor coordination and reflex time.
- Loss of inhibition and ability to make sound judgments.
- Unconsciousness or blacking out.
The teenage years are filled with emotional turmoil. Your child is going through puberty, gaining independence and facing many life changing events. It is an exciting time but one that can be stressful as well. Though your child may know that underage drinking is illegal, the stress of their lives and the desire to be accepted can cloud there judgment.
Though it seems hard to believe, your children are in fact guided by the actions you take. Setting an example is key. If you drink, do so moderately. Make sure that drinking does not interfere with your ability to play an active role in your child’s life. Additionally, make the topic of underage drinking something you start early on. Here are some facts that your child needs to know:
- When you drink, alcohol enters the blood stream and affects your entire body including your brain.
- Alcohol can make you lose your ability to make good decisions and act normally. Some of these affects, if they aren’t stopped can cause permanent damage to the brain.
- Alcohol, like any drug, is addictive. One drink may be relatively harmless. However it could lead to alcoholism, alcohol poisoning and death.
- Drinking alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal. Getting caught can mean losing your license or having to pay a fine.
- Drinking can increase the risk of cancer.
- Alcohol is the cause of more deaths of children than all other illegal drugs combined. Alcohol is dangerous not only to oneself but to others as well being an instigator of date rapes, injuries and violent acts.
The best way to prevent under-age drinking is by being pro-active. Make sure that your children know that you do not approve of under-age drinking and that there are consequences they will face should they get caught.
- In addition to talking with you child on a regular basis and making sure they trust you there are several things a parent can do:
- A parent is also responsible for knowing where their child is and what they are doing at all times. Take steps to familiarize yourself with your child’s friends and their parents.
- It is impossible to be with your child every second. However, you can set limitations as to how much time your child spends unsupervised.
- Make sure your house hold rules surround drinking are known. Write them down. Be consistent.
Resources for Help:
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