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Teen alcohol abuse: 5 insights for parents

teen alcohol abuse

Alcohol addiction is one of the leading causes of death to those under the age of 21 in the US. This includes drunk driving, homicides, suicides, and accidents while under the influence. Furthermore, the danger that alcohol poses to developing brains and teenager health in general is substantial. If teen alcohol abuse is happening in your family, and you’re not sure what to do, the steps below provide you with a starting point.

Discuss the dangers of alcohol use

Forbidding alcohol outright and ending the discussion right then and there typically has an unintended side effect — it makes alcohol seem rebellious. Normalizing alcohol and ensuring your child knows the dangers of binge drinking, drunk driving, sexual abuse and so on is a far more effective way to encourage them to, at the very least, drink more responsibly.

Having an open door policy so that they feel safe calling you if they are in trouble is another very important step to ensure your child turns to you if things get out of hand.

Read about teen drinking and driving during grad season here.

Be a good role model

Practice what you preach. If you or someone in your family is an alcoholic, it is going to be hard to convince your child that they shouldn’t follow in your footsteps.

Remember that your adolescent boy or girl watches what you say and do, so act knowing that you can be a positive influence for them.

Encourage positive behavior and hobbies

Focusing on negative reinforcement works to an extent. It is far more useful to provide teens with a healthy output and a few hobbies so that they don’t end up drinking to numb their problems.

This technique works both for teens who don’t abuse alcohol and for those that do. Sign them up for new courses, help them get into a new hobby, or even do an activity together. Every Sunday you and your whole family can go on a hike through the woods, for example.

That outing can help keep your teen healthy, encourage open dialogue, and give them positive pastimes to enjoy.

Find other activities for families here.

Teen alcohol abuse: Keep dialogue open

Open dialogue is so important. Alcohol abuse can happen just from overuse, but it also occurs in response to some sort of trauma in your teen’s life.

By making your home a safe space for your teen to talk, you can learn about the trauma before they turn to addictive substances. And, in general, just be there for them when they need help the most.

Seek help from professional institutions

Creating a healthy, supportive atmosphere at home is a great way to help your teen open up and be honest, but it is not only on you to help them overcome their alcohol abuse or addiction. That is what drug and alcohol abuse treatment plans offered by places like are for.

Remember, you are not a professional psychologist, nor are you a doctor — and you aren’t expected to be. Instead find professionals who can care for your child and help them in ways that you yourself cannot.

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