By Brandi Homan
Now that graduation is over and summer is here, don’t forget to talk to your kids about the risks of underage drinking.
Teens who drink before the age of 15 are five times more likely to have alcohol problems in adulthood, including a higher risk of addiction. While it’s hyped up in culture, the good news is you have a strong influence over the choices they make, even now.
For many, drinking is social because it can lead the individual to feel less inhibited. Others drink just because others do and it’s just easier to do what everyone else is doing. Despite a teen’s reasons for drinking, the fact remains they are at risk when they consume alcohol.
Actions have consequences and the consequences of alcohol abuse include motor impairment, confusion, memory problems, concentration problems, and excessive drinking leads to poisoning. Teens are also more likely to be polysubstance users.
Your teen might feel invincible since they graduated high school, but they aren’t. And we parents aren’t here to just let our kids become another statistic. So here are some important facts to discuss with your teens as they go into the next chapter in their life.
- Drinking before you turn 21 is illegal. You can be cited by the police and arrested for underage drinking.
- Drunk driving kills about 4,000 teens each year. Do not ride with friends who have been drinking. If someone who has been drinking offers you a ride, say, “No, thank you.” They might say they are fine to drive and pressure you to ride. Give them an excuse like, “I want to stay at the party a bit longer” or “I already told another friend I would ride with him.” The best solution is for them not to drive at all.
- Your brain is developing until your early 20s. Drinking during this time may damage your brain. Teens who drink alcohol have more memory impairment than those who do not drink.
- Using alcohol may put you at higher risk for dropping out of high school and even college. Your child has worked too hard for this. Encourage them to continue to make positive, healthy choices.
We’ve taught our kids to stand up for what’s right, even if it means standing alone. Their life and future are more important than a drink.
Brandi Homan is the co-founder of Be Awesome Youth Coalition. Be Awesome helps develop confident, connected and successful youth.
This column appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.