Can You Keep Your Teen From Using Alcohol?
How can parents and society ensure that teens stay away from alcohol?
Statistics about teens drinking alcohol is staggering – about 80% of high school students in the US have tried alcohol; by the age of 11 the average American boy has had his first drink of alcohol while the average American girl has had hers by the age of 13; about as many girls as boys aged 12 to 17 are current drinkers of alcohol.
The American picture is not far from what it is in other parts of the world. Effects of teenage alcoholism are bizarre; they include fatalities from accidents, murders and suicides; violent crimes; consequences of unprotected sex; poor educational performance; retarded mental development; and damage to the developing teenage brain. A teen who uses alcohol is four times more likely to become an alcoholic than a teen who does not use alcohol. And there is a strong link between teenage use of alcohol and the use of other hard drugs.
If the truth must be told, it's tough to take alcohol out of the way of teenagers, with the exposure from advertisements, drinking parents, peers, parties and alcohol availability at home. Moreover, it takes a concerted effort to dissuade teenagers from trying alcohol. Teen age is the time for self consciousness associated with risk taking and experimentation, attempts to fit in with others plus coping with changes in schools and homes. It is also an age when possible harmful consequences of actions are not contemplated.
However, if you consider the fact that alcoholism, once developed, is difficult to cure and could pose a life-time problem for family and state, it should be realized that it is worthwhile to take the steps that will prevent teenagers from the use of alcohol.
Parents are in a strong position to control the teenage tendency to use alcohol. A careful and purposeful combination of parent-child bonding, responsible parenting, conversation, guides, rules, discipline, activity monitoring, association monitoring, and living by example will constitute a good strategy to protect the teenage from the use of alcohol.
Governments already have in place laws and law enforcement in respect of minimum legal drinking age, as well as commercial and social access to alcohol by teenagers. Economic policies that will reduce affordability of alcohol through taxes and duties have been instituted and implemented by governments in many cases.
Schools and communities are also known to have programs aimed at cultivating resistance to alcohol in teens. Community based programs are usually extra curricula activities that constructively engage teens at the times that they are not in school so that they are not left to spend their time unaccompanied and unsupervised by responsible adults. Communities also collaborate in the enforcement of laws and practices that will restrict availability of alcohol to youths in the society. Community based intervention is equally useful in monitoring and discouraging gatherings at which teens may drink.
Teenagers need to be encouraged to obey the law and to participate in programs by schools and the community to develop them into responsible members of the society.
With parents taking the lead by exploiting their special relationship with the teens and taking active interest in programs and activities designed to keep teens away from alcohol by schools, governments and the community, all efforts can converge to have the desired result of keeping teenagers from the use of alcohol as a way of preventing teenage alcoholism.