Let’s Talk About It - Teens and alcohol safety

Posted by Rebecca Velline on 4/28/2023

April is alcohol awareness month. As we approach the end of April with summer break around the corner, now seems to be the appropriate time to speak on teen alcohol safety. In the United States, one person dies every 45 minutes from drunk driving crashes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported. As a parent myself, drunk driving and alcohol abuse are just a couple of the fears I have for the health and safety of my children.
A lot of celebrations are upon us with prom and graduation coming up. This time of year is so exciting for our students, especially our seniors. While planning for these celebrations consider the following tips:

  • Have an open conversation with your teenager. Building an environment where your teen feels comfortable asking questions even the uncomfortable questions. I find asking open ended questions rather than yes or no questions can assist in an honest conversation. At least 7 million kids as young as 12 drank alcohol in the last 30 days.
  • Setting clear ground rules in writing with consequences explained. Writing and explaining the rules can assist in preventing miscommunication. Explaining the real examples of why the rules are in place.
  • Host a party of your own without alcohol. Show the kids that we can have fun and celebrate without alcohol. I always say if we are not having fun sober, we will not stay sober.
  • Create a safety plan for kids going out. Teaching our children what would make the celebration unsafe and when to call for a ride.

Honest conversations on substance use are a difficult topic to get our kids to open and speak honestly. I found some helpful considerations for an effective conversation through Alcohol Think Again.

  • Be patient. Some teenagers have difficulty expressing themselves and often say things they do not mean. Try not to take what they say personally and avoid engaging in conflict or arguments. Try and listen without interruption. Help them to express themselves by showing a genuine interest.
  • Be a good role model. Be aware of your behavior and your own attitude towards alcohol as this can have an impact on the way teenagers address their own alcohol use.
  • Discussing drugs and alcohol. It is important that you do not glorify your own behavior and be careful of sounding hypocritical. Help your teenager develop strategies that will help them deal with situations where they will be offered alcohol and other drugs or put in difficult situations.
  • Work in collaboration. Express the reasons why you came to a particular decision. Allow your teenager the opportunity to talk about the family’s rules and how they affect them. 

I hope that sharing this information can get us all to think about healthy and safe celebrations this spring. As always, we are here for support on these topics. Let’s have a great end to the school year!

Rebecca Velline
Chemical Health Prevention Specialist