Underage Drinking: Tips for 'The Talk'

September 26, 2012

Overall, about 5,000 kids die each year because of underage drinking.

Fifty-two percent of teens have consumed alcohol by the eighth grade. And a study shows, out of the 20 million alcoholics in America, more than half started drinking as teens.

Psychologist Deborah Day says it's important kids know the consequences.

"They're not prepared for the impact of drugs and alcohol on their systems," said Day.

Talking to teens about underage drinking can be tricky. So, here are some tips the Mayo Clinic recommends:

Debunk the myths. While teens may think drinking will make them popular and give them a high, let them know it's a depressant that can lead to sadness and anger too.

And get ready to answer tough questions about your own drinking habits. Consider sharing a story about a negative consequence your drinking caused.

The three leading causes of death for 15- to 24-year-olds are car crashes, homicides and suicides...alcohol is a leading factor in all three.

MORE TIPS FOR PREVENTION: There are many things parents and educators can do to help prevent youths from drinking.

  • Discourage violation of alcohol rules by consistently enforcing them.
  • Provide and promote multiple venues where adolescents can get together with their friends.
  • Provide them with the developmentally appropriate knowledge, skills, and motivation to resist peer and other pressures to drink.
  • Recognize and identify when a youth has a problem with alcohol use and assist them in finding professional or medical help.
  • Make a special effort to be a mentor and confidant to your children/students; especially when they are going through times of stress from social transitions and increasing responsibility. (Source: www.surgeongeneral.gov)

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