As parents, we have the opportunity to guide our teenagers in making positive decisions about alcohol use and using other drugs. Your teenager is starting to develop his or her own identity and balance new freedoms. With that new freedom arises more opportunities for your teen to be exposed to high-risk behavior, specifically alcohol use and other drugs. If you and your teen haven't started talking about underage drinking, we encourage you to do so. Your expectations and opinions matter to your teen, even if it doesn't always seem that way. Parents should always be asking themselves, "How can I best talk to my child about alcohol use?"
As parents you are aware that your teen is experiencing many changes with their body and social experiences, such as:
All of these factors increase the risk for high-risk behaviors and experiences – including alcohol use and the potential for driving after using drugs or alcohol or riding in a vehicle with a driver who has used alcohol or other drugs. The personality characteristics consistent with young adults such as, impulsiveness and sensation seeking, contribute to the likelihood that underage drinking (and sometimes abuse) patterns will develop.
Your child’s brain is also growing and changing during their teen years. Recent research has helped us understand that a person’s brain is not physiologically mature until a person’s mid-twenties. Exposing your teen’s brain to alcohol and other drugs may cause loss of memory and interfere with brain development – which can have permanent effects.
Click here for more information on the impact alcohol can have on your teen’s development.
To learn more visit, What do I say to your 10-12th grader.
Sources: National Institute of Health: Alcohol and the Developing Adolescent Brain Ichiyama, M.A., & Kruse, M.I. (1998). The social contexts of binge drinking among private university freshmen. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 44(1), 18-33.