The Roundup -

Parents Key in Preventing Underage Drinking


As parents, we always worry about our kids, their future and if we are doing the best for them. Now, it is proven that the earlier we begin the discussion on alcohol use, the better the chances they will wait to try alcohol and the less likely they will have problems with abuse or dependence. Teens that experiment with alcohol before age 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol dependent when they are older than those that wait until age 20. (NCADD, 2014) This is why education and prevention are so critically important to reducing alcohol-related problems and alcoholism. In fact, teens that hear the message that underage drinking is not an accepted practice are 80% less likely to try alcohol before the age of 21. And they are listening…3 out of 4 teens say their parents are their biggest influence!

Though progress is being made, underage drinking remains a persistent problem. According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 9.3 million Americans between ages 12-20 report current alcohol consumption; this represents 24% of this age group for whom alcohol consumption is illegal. Among 12-20 year olds, reported rates of past month consumption, binge drinking and heavy alcohol all declined between 2002 and 2012. (, 2014)

This is the 27th Annual Alcohol Awareness Month and the theme for activities this month and throughout the year will be Help for Today. Hope for Tomorrow. And as shown above, this help and hope begins at home. The community must be involved, but parents and their home are where children learn what they live.

Do you think you need help talking to your kids or how to start this conversation? Here are some tips and resources that will give you ideas and helpful ways on how to start the conversation as you discuss April being Alcohol Awareness Month.

--Do not be afraid to be the bad parent. Say no! You are their parent first and their friend second. Set the rule that alcohol use before they are of age is not tolerated in your family and show responsible alcohol use in your own home. As parents, you are their biggest role model! Most kids drink to get drunk. Do not make it seem alcohol is used for de-stressing or getting drunk.

--Connect with your child’s friends and their parents. Know the families your child is spending time with and their beliefs on the subject of underage drinking, and make sure they know you do not tolerate it.

--Promote healthy activities in your family and again, establish clear rules regarding drug and alcohol use in your home, and know where your child is and what they are doing. Encourage them to be active in school or church activities, especially those groups that encourage children to take a Stand against alcohol use.

--Educate yourself on the newest information on alcohol use amongst children, know the signs that your child may be in trouble, and know the resources in your area. Is your child lying, becoming less involved with activities they love, are they struggling in school or having problems with friends? It may be time to get help.

--Be a role model and set a positive example and keep track of any alcohol you may have in your home and your prescription drugs.

--And lastly, get help! If you feel you cannot help your child, reach out to family, friends, clergy or the local resources in your area.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and as we are spending more time out and about in the warmer weather, celebrating prom and graduations, it is the perfect opportunity to become more educated about Alcohol Use and the effects it has on individuals, families and communities and then share those facts with your children.

For more information on speaking to your children about underage drinking, please contact District II Drug and Alcohol Programs at 406-433-4097, or visit Richland County STAND and StAnD4yOUth on Facebook.


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