Addressing Alcohol Abuse With Your Teen During Alcohol Awareness Month

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, which was established to help take away the stigma away from discussing alcohol abuse. Many parents we have worked with have expressed the shock they felt when they found out their troubled teens were drinking alcohol, as these parents believed their stated standards would have prevented the abuse. But, when it comes to ensuring that teens do not abuse alcohol, either as teens or as adults, parents need to address alcohol abuse openly and honestly with their teens.

How To Open The Conversation About Alcohol Abuse

It can be difficult to open the conversation on alcohol abuse with your teen as it is not a light or easy topic. Also, if approached incorrectly, it may cause your teen shut down and refuse to discuss it with you. A few ways we recommend you open the conversation on alcohol abuse are:

  • Use a one-on-one activity as a time to talk - Many teens find it easier to be open and honest during private conversations, so spend some one-on-one time with your teenager so you can talk more easily about alcohol abuse.
  • Open the conversation by asking how your teen views alcohol - Ask open-ended questions to help your teen open up about their thoughts and views on alcohol. For instance, instead of asking "Do you think teens drinking alcohol is okay?", which can be just answered with a yes or no, try asking something like "Why do you think some people believe it's okay for teens to drink alcohol?". This can yield you a much more thoughtful answer and allow you insight into your teen's thoughts.
  • Reference a recent news story to start the discussion - Talking about a news story on underage drinking or an incident where drinking alcohol has gone bad like a drunk driving accident, can be a simple segue to open a conversation about alcohol abuse with your teen.

Discussing Alcohol With Your Teen

There are several ways you can go about discussing alcohol and alcohol abuse with your teenager. You will need to have several conversations with your teen to help them fully understand the potential dangers of alcohol.

  • Talk about why teens should not be drinking - Teens need to understand why they should not be drinking. While young children may accept a "Because I said so" from a parent, teens are far beyond the age where that kind of answer works. Be sure to discuss that it is illegal when underage and drinking alcohol, the potential damage to their growing brains and bodies, and other dangers which are not restricted by age.
  • Help your teen formulate ways to resist peer pressure - Whether while in high school or during college, your teen is highly likely to be pressured to drink alcohol. Many of these peer pressuring situations are also when alcohol will be heavily abused by the drinkers. Plan with your teen beforehand ways for them to resist peer pressure to drink, such as a codeword for them to tell you when your teen is in a situation where drinking is occurring.
  • Cover drinking myths - There is a lot of misinformation surrounding drinking alcohol, both positive and negative. While it is important for your teen to understand that drinking won't automatically make them popular and outgoing, it is also important for you to debunk the negative myths as well. Such as "one sip of alcohol can addict you". These patently false myths can cause your teen not to believe the real dangers of alcohol abuse.
  • Be honest when talking with your teen - Your teen will likely ask you about your own teen drinking experiences or current drinking, do not lie if you did drink as a teen. However, focus on the negative side of any underage drinking you did, so your teen does not have the idea that it will turn out fine because you are fine. If you drink as an adult, be sure that your behavior is exemplary so you can help guide your teen's future drinking behavior, if they choose to drink as an adult.

Preventing Your Teen From Abusing Alcohol

There are some things parents can do to help their teen avoid alcohol.

  • Set the expectation that underage drinking is unacceptable.
  • Clearly establish rules based on the expectations and set consequences.
  • Know where your teen is and who they are spending time with.
  • Encourage your teen's healthy and positive friendships.

If you need further help with your teen, whether due to alcohol abuse or other troubling behavior, consider sending them to Liahona Academy. We have helped many troubled teens back on the right path and we are ready to help your family as well.

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