Drinking among teens continues to be a serious problem, as the average age they begin to drink is falling. Girls, on average, begin at age 13 while boys begin at 11. These preteen drinkers have no frame of reference to the dangers and serious consequences to which they’re exposing themselves. Underage drinkers are more likely than adults to be victims of violent crimes, alcohol-related traffic accidents, depression, and anxiety. What’s worse, over 90% of the alcohol they consume is through binge drinking. This school year has just begun. Consider how you can help your teens refrain from drinking alcohol.
The Dangers of Binge Drinking Among Teens
The teenage years already bring considerable change as teenagers discover who they are. While this can be an exciting time for your children, alcohol use can make these risky years as well. More and more teenagers are experimenting with binge drinking (drinking five or more drinks in rapid succession for men, four or more for women). This behavior significantly increases their risk to dangerous consequences.
Binge drinking is problematic for adults. It is far worse for children. Alcohol is a major factor in nearly all automobile crashes by teenagers. Alcohol is also known to impair the development of teenage brains creating long-lasting problems such as memory loss, coordination, and poor motor skills. It also leaves your kids vulnerable to sexual assaults and rape. Binge drink may also impair their judgement and affect their performance at school. They also run the risk of overdosing and death from alcohol poisoning.
Parents Can Prevent Teen Binge Drinking
Fortunately, your kids do not have to be another statistic. You can stop them from binge drinking, even drinking in general, if you reach them in time. The key is having a strong relationship with them and educating them frequently.
You will want to talk to your children about alcohol and alcohol advertising long before it becomes a problem. Actively engaging teens about alcohol and alcohol advertisements in magazines, movies, TV, and the internet will educate them about the dangers of drinking and ensure they know what you expect. It does not matter how long your talk is or where you have it. Along with being a good role model with your own drinking practices, it is critical to engage your teenagers in consistent, frequent conversation.
Recognizing and Treating Adolescents Who Drink
If your teen is already drinking, preventive measures will be too late, but you can still help them. Become familiar with the signs of teenage drinking to ensure you can reach your teen as early as possible.
Some of these signs include:
- Problems with grades, attendance, and disciplinary actions at school
- Problems with authority including yours
- Changes in friends
- Disheveled appearance
- Apathy toward life and previous interests
- Anger, irritability, and defensiveness
- Memory and concentration issues
- Lack of energy
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
Treating adolescents who drink can be difficult as they may not want the help, but you need to act as soon as you can. If you suspect your child may be drinking alcohol, it is important to confront them with compassion (not judgement) as early as possible. If your child develops alcohol poisoning from binge drinking, you will need to take them to a doctor immediately. You should never have someone with alcohol poisoning “sleep it off”. Instead, turn your child on his or her side using a pillow for a back brace, and call 911.
Sober Houston partners with organizations who provide drug and alcohol education, counseling services, rehab and sober living facilities. For more information on how to talk to your children about alcohol or for help with treatment options, Contact Us.