Start Talking Before They Start Drinking
You Are the Most Powerful Influence on Your Child’s Behavior
Underage drinking can have serious consequences. You can protect your children from the risks associated with drinking by maintaining open communication and expressing a clear, consistent message about alcohol. Building a close relationship with your kids will encourage them to come to you for help in making decisions that impact their health and well-being. This guide provides facts and practical advice on how to talk with your children about underage drinking. It helps you create household rules to support your values.
Society gives children mixed messages about alcohol. Make sure that your children get their information from the best resource available.
What You Need to Know
Many kids start drinking in middle school.1
- One out of every two 8th graders has tried alcohol.2
- More kids use alcohol than use tobacco or illicit drugs.3
- More children are killed by alcohol than all illegal drugs combined.4
- Children who begin drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are 5 times more likely than those who start after age 21 to develop alcohol problems.5
- The chances of becoming dependent decrease by 14% for each year of delay in the onset of alcohol use.6
Alcohol and Judgement
The teenage brain is still developing. Alcohol can impair the parts of the brain that control the following:7
- Motor coordination. This includes the ability to walk, drive and process information.
- Impulse control. Drinking lowers inhibitions and increases the chances that a person will do something that they will regret when they are sober.
- Memory. Impaired recollection and even blackouts can occur when too much alcohol has been consumed.
- Judgement and decision making capacity. Drinking may lead young people to engage in risky behaviors that can result in illness, injury, and even death.8
Alcohol use among youth is strongly correlated with
violence, risky sexual behavior, poor academic performance and other harmful behaviors.10
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Health and Human Services.
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