Alcohol
Talk to your kids today about the
dangers of underage drinking.
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Alcohol Information

Parents have a strong influence in shaping kids’ attitudes about drinking. Be a positive one! Help your child or teen avoid alcohol problems.

Statistics

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5,000 people under 21 die every year from drinking
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40% of teens said they can easily get alcohol from a friend's parent

Drinking and driving is a major contributor of teen deaths in the U.S.

  • Approximately 5,000 persons under 21 die every year from drinking. These deaths result from car crashes, homicides, and suicides while under the influence. Teens who drink are more likely to engage in risky sexual activities, abuse other drugs and carry weapons.

Teens are more likely to binge drink, which is drinking multiple drinks in a short period of time, than adults.

  • Alcohol poisoning is caused by drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. It can quickly affect your breathing and heart rate, potentially leading to coma, permanent brain damage and even death. Seek immediate medical attention for someone with any of these symptoms: confusion, stupor, vomiting, seizures, slow or irregular breathing, blue or pale skin, low body temperature or unconsciousness.

According to an American Medical Association 40% (2 our of every 5) teens said they could easily get alcohol from a friend’s parent.

Teens tend to mix alcohol with energy drinks, which is even more dangerous than drinking the alcohol by itself.

  • Can lead to “wide-awake drunkenness” which is a condition caused when caffeine masks the feeling of drunkenness but does not decrease alcohol-related impairment. This can lead to risky behaviors, including drunk driving.

Genetics

Regardless of what parents may teach their children about alcohol, some genetic factors are present from birth and cannot be changed. Genes appear to influence the development of drinking behaviors in several ways. Some people, particularly those of Asian ancestry, have a natural and unpleasant response to alcohol that helps prevent them from drinking too much. Other people have a naturally high tolerance to alcohol, meaning that to feel alcohol’s effects, they must drink more than others. Some personality traits are genetic, and those, like impulsivity, can put a person at risk for problem drinking. Psychiatric problems may be caused by genetic traits, and such problems can increase risk for alcohol abuse and dependence. Finally, having a parent with a drinking problem increases a child’s risk for developing an alcohol problem of his or her own.

Tips for Parents

Be Part of the Solution!

Parents have a strong influence in shaping kids’ attitudes about drinking. Be a positive one! Help your child or teen avoid alcohol problems.

  • Talking to them about the dangers of drinking.
  • Not making alcohol available.
  • Being a positive role model in both your own drinking behavior and in general.
  • Getting to know your child’s or teen’s friends.
  • Having regular conversations with your kids about all topics of life.
  • Connecting with other parents and sending clear, uniform messages about not drinking alcohol.
  • Supervising all parties to make sure there is no alcohol present.
  • Encouraging your kids to participate in healthy and fun activities that do not involve alcohol.
  • Helping them create a plan to exit a party or situation with alcohol safely and without repercussion or punishment.
    • “No way, I have to drive tonight.”
    • “Sorry, I just don’t like beer.”
    • “Yeah, right. My mom/dad would kill me if I came home smelling like booze.”
  • Be aware of your State’s laws about providing alcohol to your own children.
  • Never provide alcohol to someone else’s child.

Research shows kids with parents who are actively involved in their lives are less likely to drink alcohol! With open, respectful communication and explanations of boundaries and expectations, parents can continue to influence their children’s decisions well into adolescence and beyond. This is especially important in young people’s decisions regarding whether and how to drink – decisions that can have lifelong consequences.

Words to Know

  • Booze
  • Sauce
  • Hooch
  • Hard stuff
  • Juice

Warning Signs

Adolescence is a time of change and growth, including behavior changes. These changes usually are a normal part of growing up but sometimes can point to an alcohol problem. Parents and teachers should pay close attention to the following warning signs that may indicate underage drinking:

  • Changes in mood, including anger and irritability
  • Academic and/or behavioral problems in school
  • Rebelliousness
  • Changing groups of friends
  • Low energy level
  • Less interest in activities and/or care in appearance
  • Finding alcohol among a young person’s things
  • Smelling alcohol on a young person’s breath
  • Problems concentrating and/or remembering
  • Slurred speech
  • Coordination problems

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