It may come as a surprise to some parents, but experts say you are the biggest influence on your child’s decision to drink or not. In fact, more than 80 percent of young people ages 10 – 18 say so.
Data from the 2005 Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, revealed three-fourths of seniors, more than two-thirds of sophomores, and two in five 8th graders have consumed alcohol. Around 10 percent of 12-year-olds and half of all 15-year-olds admit they’ve consumed alcohol. Further, when young people drink, they tend to binge drink.
Why Kids Turn to Alcohol
Adolescence can be an awkward and challenging time. Puberty, peer pressure, self-doubt, bullying – there are so many struggles and outside influences. Unfortunately, alcohol can be the escape they need.
So what are some of the reasons young people turn to alcohol? There is a lot going on in a pre-teen’s life. Their bodies are changing. They are experiencing new emotions and transitions in life. This age group is really susceptible to peer pressure. And if there is alcoholism in the family, the risk goes up. Children of alcoholics are between 4 and 10 times more likely to become alcoholics than children without alcoholism in their family.
Talk to Your Children About Alcohol
Why should you talk to your children? Just look at the consequences of underage drinking. There are around 5,000 deaths annually attributed to alcohol, which include car accidents, homicides, suicides, drownings and other alcohol-related accidents. Additionally, the estimated one million high school student binge-drinkers nationwide are more likely to use drugs, get bad grades and indulge in other risky behaviors. In 2014, more than 1.6 million people between the ages of 12 and 20 said they had driven under the influence.
Suspect your child has been drinking? Here are some signs:
- They have sudden mood changes – temper, irritability, defensive
- Truancy, academic performance drops, or getting in trouble at school
- Ignoring household rules
- A change in the circle of friends
- A lack of enthusiasm; a sloppy appearance
- Memory lapses, poor concentration, bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination, or slurred speech
So how do you talk to your kids about alcohol? The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) provides resources for parents as part of their “Talk. They Hear You.” campaign. They suggest starting the conversation as young as nine years old. These days, with the Internet being a major resource of young people, parents need to work harder to establish themselves as the first source of information. The overall theme is to make clear the behavior is unacceptable. Beginning the conversation may be difficult but it’s valuable and ultimately, you’ll build trust and encourage your child to be open and honest.
JourneyPure Bowling Green is a great resource for any questions you might have if you suspect your child is abusing alcohol. Contact us today and we can help answer your questions.
Chris Clancy is the in-house Content Manager for JourneyPure’s Digital Marketing team, where he gets to explore a wide variety of substance abuse- and mental health-related topics. He has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist and researcher, with strong working knowledge of hospital systems, health insurance, content strategy, and public relations. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two kids.