When Summer Leads To Underage Drinking

A season known for barbecues, pool days, flip flops, and family vacations, summer is a popular time for activities with friends and family. But along with all the parties and picnics comes the seemingly unlimited supply of alcoholic beverages, often tempting children and teens.

Every day, more than 11,000 kids will try alcohol for the first time during the months of June and July. 

Rather than stopping your kids from going to summer events altogether, use this time as an opportunity to openly discuss the dangers of alcohol abuse. Children respect what their parents have to say when it comes to serious matters such as alcohol – more so than you may realize.  

Negative Consequences Of Teen Alcohol Abuse

Underage drinking isn’t a new problem. For decades, it’s been a persistent issue for the parents of each rising generation. Sometimes you may even hear that it’s a healthy rite of passage, or something that’s completely inevitable.

Unfortunately, many have forgotten the serious risks of alcohol abuse. It can turn a child or teenager’s bright future and life goals upside down in an instant. In fact, studies have linked underage drinking to:

  • Academic problems
  • Unwanted or unprotected sexual activity
  • Drug use
  • Injury or death from an accident
  • Changes in brain development

Youth who start drinking before age 15 years are 6 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21 years.

- 2013 National Surgery on Drug Use and Health by the US Department of Health and Human Services

Warning Signs Of Alcohol Abuse

If you’re worried that your child may be abusing alcohol, there are common physical and behavior changes to to look for. Some of the warning signs of alcohol abuse include:

  • Mood changes like irritability, defensiveness, and temper
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Lack of coordination
  • Glassy or blank stares
  • Problems in school with grades and attendance
  • Changes in friend groups and reluctance to talk about them

Educating Children And Teens On Drug Abuse

More than 80% of children say parents are the leading influencers in their decision to drink or not. 

Underage alcohol abuse prevention begins with parents talking to their children about the long-lasting consequences of addiction as well as teaching them responsible decision-making skills.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy created the acronym SUMMER to help parents start the conversation about the risks associated with alcohol abuse.

  • Set rules. Have a discussion with your kids about any expectations or guidelines you have relating to alcohol consumption.
  • Understand and communicate. Open communication is a 2-way street. Give your kids the chance to talk to you and listen to any questions or concerns they may present.
  • Monitor activities. Life gets hectic between work, appointments, and extracurricular activities. It’s important to remain attentive for signs that may indicate your child is abusing alcohol.
  • Make sure you stay involved. Show your kids that you’re concerned about their health and safety. They’ll be more comfortable coming to you for advice as a result.
  • Encourage involvement of summer activities. Help them make a list of summer programs they want to take part in. Staying busy during the summer months will keep them out of trouble.
  • Reserve time for family. Cut out time each day for your kids. Do something that interests them or take a trip to enjoy some rest and relaxation together.

If your child or teenager is struggling with alcohol abuse, there is help available. Contact a treatment provider today.

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