Most teens are going to drink before they get out of high school. By 18, 69.4% of teens have tried alcohol, 41.5% drank within the last month, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Some of these kids will abuse it (15.8% binge drink) and get lost in it (4.4% heavy drinking). As parents, even single instances of your kid drinking should be taken seriously. You can’t know for sure whether it is worse than you know or where they might end up on the continuum: experimentation to wreaking havoc with their lives. So, what do you do when you discover your kid has used alcohol? Here are some suggestions.
Before you attempt to address this potential problem you need to review a few things. What is your personal view on drinking? Is alcohol a problem in your household? (If it is you, the best way to help your kid is to get sober.) Do you keep a fully stocked bar? Would you notice if alcohol was missing? At what age do you think it is okay for your kid to drink? 16? 18? 21? Never? Answers to these questions will guide and inform how you establish (or re-establish) an alcohol and drug policy for your home. Make sure you are clear about your position on alcohol and drug use before you talk to your kid.
What’s the deal?
Get the facts. Tell them what you found and ask your kid what is going on. Ask how much and how often they have been drinking. Ask about their views on alcohol use.
Talk, a lot
Discuss your general concerns about alcohol use and abuse. Talk about any family history, friends or your own life history with drinking and how it has caused problems. Talk about honesty and trust. Make sure your kid knows that with lack of trust comes lack of freedom. Finally, review the risks of drinking.
Alcohol Abuse 101
Have your kid research the risks and problems with drinking along with the effects of alcohol abuse and addiction on family and friends. Have them focus on the particular ways it causes problems for parents of teens. Once you are sure they addressed all the important points, have them present their findings at a family meeting.
They should be committed