Arming Parents with the Knowledge to Confront Teen Drinking

Studies have shown that parents are the most significant factor in whether a teen decides to drink alcohol. Peer pressure gets all the media attention, but research has shown that parental influence lasts through their children’s adolescence.

Drinking recreationally during high school may lead to adult addiction and multiple health consequences including heart disease and certain cancers. When an individual begins drinking during adolescence they expose their bodies to these risks over a longer period of time when compared with an individual that begins drinking in adulthood.

In addition, teens that drink excessively can erode relationships critical to their well-being. Tension with parents, teachers and disapproving friends can be isolating, and academic and extracurricular responsibilities suffer if drinking takes priority over other activities.

For parents that may need information before they initiate conversation a fact sheet by College Parents of America provides statistics about alcohol use and consequences, as well as indicators that parents can use to determine whether their child may have a problem. The sheet also gives details about what constitutes a standard drink when comparing beer, wine and spirits.

Among the helpful statistics there’s this: There are 1,400 deaths each year from alcohol consumption among 18- to 24-year-olds including motor vehicle fatalities. In addition, 500,000 in this age group experience an alcohol-related injury annually and more than 600,000 are victims of an assault

The fact sheet also provides information about college alcohol risk factors. Fraternity or sorority members that live in Greek houses have a higher level of alcohol consumption when compared to those that live off-campus or in dormitories.

Warning signs that a child may have an alcohol problem include lying or hiding drinking behaviors and engaging in risky behaviors being involved in an assault or vandalism.

By talking with their teenage and young adult children about the risks of alcohol abuse, parents can help them avoid negative consequences.