02 Oct 9 ways to delay teen drinking
Research shows that the younger a person is when they start to drink, the greater the risk of alcohol-related problems later in life.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, children who begin drinking at age 13 have a 45% chance of becoming alcohol-dependent. However, a person who starts drinking at the legal age of 21 has only a 7% chance of becoming addicted. In addition, the brain doesn’t finish developing until the mid-twenties and introducing alcohol during this critical time has serious consequences.
Here are 9 ways to delay teen drinking until the legal age of 21:
- Have consistent, ongoing conversations about the dangers of underage drinking. Click here to learn about the consequences of underage drinking and tips for talking to your kids. Kids cite misinformation as one of the reasons they drink. You can help avoid this by giving them accurate information.
- Encourage sports, hobbies, clubs and social activities to keep them busy and fulfilled. Teens who can’t tolerate being alone, have trouble keeping themselves occupied, or crave excitement are prime candidates for underage drinking. Not only does alcohol give them something to do, but it can help fill an internal void they feel.
- If your child’s behavior drastically changes, seek mental-health counseling to see if there is a bigger issue going on. When teens are unhappy and can’t find a healthy outlet for their frustration or a trusted confidant, they may turn to alcohol to escape and self-medicate.
- Combat messages they are receiving from popular media. Research indicates that advertising may be responsible for up to 30% of underage drinking. Also, alcohol remains the number one drug portrayed on American television: 1 drinking scene is shown every 22 minutes. Let them know now that even though it may seem like it, not all kids drink. According to the 2014 Texas School Survey, 49.5% of Texas 7th-12th graders reported never drinking alcohol.
- Build their self-confidence. Many shy teenagers who lack confidence report that they’ll do things under the influence of alcohol that they might not otherwise. Drinking alcohol not only loosens their inhibitions, but it can alleviate social anxiety. Kids are less worried about doing or saying the wrong thing, because their peers could just think they’ve had too many drinks.
- Lock up the alcohol in your house, always know how much you have and check it regularly. Don’t allow access at home to be an option.
- If you teenager is going to a party, drop them off and pick them up, agree on a time they will be leaving the party and always check with other parents and make sure they have a no-alcohol policy in their home. Have set consequences if your teen breaks the rules.
- Always check where they’re going, with who, with other parents and make sure they always have a fully charged phone that is turned on.
- Monitor social media. A survey of 12-17 year olds found that teens who spent any time on social media during the day were three times likelier to have used alcohol. Monitor what outlets your kids are using and what messages about alcohol they are receiving.