Talking to teens about alcohol

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It’s not always easy, but it’s important to talk to your teenage children about the dangers of underage drinking. It can result in violence, sexual assault, brain development problems and even serious injury or death.


According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 35 percent of 15-year-olds have had at least one drink in their lives. Even if your child has never tried alcohol, many teens deal with peer pressure and need to know how to say no. Talking with your child may help prepare them to deal with these situations.


The National Institutes of Health recommends the following tips for talking with your teen about drinking:

•  Have open conversations about alcohol. Remain calm and answer questions honestly.

•  Anytime the subject of alcohol comes up, use it as a chance to talk about it again. The message to avoid alcohol needs to be repeated.

•  Tell your child about the dangers of alcohol. These include harming the body and brain and putting them in dangerous situations. Tell them underage drinking is against the law.

•  Try “what if” situations. Ask them, “What if James asks you to try just a sip of beer?” Have them practice their response.

•  Stress they should never get in a car with a person who has been drinking, even if they “just had one drink.” Alcohol affects teens differently than adults.

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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