School Daze - Teenagers and Alcohol

Teenagers are the adults of tomorrow and will emulate much of what they see in their parents and other grownups. Experimenting with alcohol and other illegal substances is a rite of passage for many young folks.

It is unfortunate that getting their driver’s license and their first car occurs about the same time as teenagers and alcohol become acquainted. Initiation into drinking can leave teenagers bewildered if not in a daze experiencing the after affects and consequences of intoxication.

With the start of school, there are dances, parties, and drinking. Somehow, it has become the “in” thing to brag about drinking and even the degree of drunkenness it produces. Some kids who brag about the amount of alcohol they consume never make it to the Senior Prom. Unfortunately, some of these young folks end up in the morgue.

Some of those deaths are caused by alcohol poisoning – from "binge drinking" – but eight young people die every day in the US in alcohol related crashes. It is not possible to monitor every move your child makes, but what is possible is to educate them early in their school years about the dangers of drinking and driving. Formal training in school can accomplish this, but by far the best way is by example.

People will drink. Young people will experiment as a natural course of growing up. Experimenting with alcohol is most dangerous in the early stages of young adulthood, as alcohol distorts reasoning and judgment. Drinkers believe they are much more in control of their reflexes and motor skills than they truly are. It is a perilous belief, and one that certainly is responsible for car crashes involving teenagers and alcohol.

For a parent to test their levels of intoxication and not drive when their levels are in the danger zone, or simply refusing to drive after consuming any alcohol raises a young person's awareness of the risks of driving and drinking.

This is not to say that parents should condone teenage drinking, far from it. However, it is impossible to monitor your child’s every move. Better to chaperone when and where you can while teaching by example. It's not enough to say "Don't…"

Your kids will wear seatbelts if you do. They'll likely drink or smoke if you do too. They may also drink and drive if you do.

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Making teenagers and alcohol less of a problem

It seems harsh, but perhaps a personal breathalyzer is the answer.