Ahhhhh, sweet summertime is almost here! We have been dreaming about soaking up some rays all winter long, beach vacations, camping, cookouts, parties with friends, and so much more. And at this point in the school year, most teens are ready to get their summer vacation started too. This is the perfect time to start discussing with your teen the dangers of underage drinking, as summertime presents more opportunities to socialize with friends.
According to samhsa.gov, 50% of 15 year olds say they have tried alcohol. This means that it is never too early to start the discussion about alcohol with your child. Set some rules and consequences about underage drinking for your teen. Let them know you will enforce those consequences. Be a role model, as most teens do look up to their parents as examples.
Aside from discussing rules and consequences, it is important to know that there are a lot of myths surrounding alcohol. Those myths may make your teen think that alcohol is not harmful. It is important to address those myths when talking to your teen about underage drinking.
Myth: Alcohol is not as harmful as drugs.
Fact: Your brain won’t stop growing until the age of 25. Drinking alcohol can affect your brain’s development. It can cause the nerve cells to communicate abnormally in the hippocampus. The damage to the nerve cells may be irreversible, and will cause issues with learning and memory. Alcohol also increases your risk of diseases, including cancer.
Myth: Alcohol is a good way to loosen up at parties and it will make people like me.
Fact: Alcohol might loosen you up in ways you don’t want. You may lose your filter and do or say things you normally would not do while sober. You might be stumbling around, falling over, you could hurt yourself, or even get sick and puke everywhere. You might wake up the next day and not remember anything and have to relive your night of terrible decisions through someone else’s account. Speaking of blacking out, drinking can increase the likelihood of sexual assault.
Myth: If I need to sober up, I can just take a cold shower, grab a bite to eat, or drink some coffee.
Fact: While doing any of those things may make you feel less drunk, the physiological effects of alcohol on your body will not have changed. In fact, if you have four drinks in one hour, it will take more than four hours to get it out of your system because the body can only metabolize 6 – 8 grams of alcohol every hour, on average.
Myth: “Beef before liquor, never been sicker. Liquor before beer, you are in the clear.”
Fact: This is an old urban legend, one that even most adults still believe in to explain why people get sick when they drink. Truthfully, alcohol is alcohol. Too much of it in any combination will make you get sick.
Myth: I’m going to look like a loser if I don’t drink, and my friends won’t like me.
Fact: If someone is truly your friend, they aren’t going to end a friendship over your decision not to drink. If your friend does pressure you or threatens to not be your friend anymore over your decision not to drink, maybe that person wasn’t really your friend after all.
Myth: If someone gets too drunk at a party and passes out, they probably just need to sleep it off.
Fact: NO! Never leave a drunk person alone when they pass out. Make sure they are breathing, watch for changes in skin color, and try waking them up. Be especially watchful if they are vomiting, so they don’t choke. If their breathing becomes irregular or their body temperature changes, call for help. They may be experiencing alcohol poisoning, and need immediate medical attention.
There are many more myths floating around out there, so ask your teen what they have heard about alcohol and plan to address those myths as well.
One more important thing to discuss with your teen is if they are feeling pressured to drink at a party and they no longer are comfortable in that situation, who can they call for help or a ride home? Help them come up with a plan to leave the situation instead of feeling like their only option is to give in and drink alcohol.
Below is the #DearFutureMe video for today’s theme of underage drinking. Be sure to share how you will take action today for a healthier tomorrow with #DearFutureMe and #NPW2018.