According to the National Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, drivers from the ages of 16 to 19 are three times more likely to die in an automobile accident than drivers 20 years and older. Despite repeated warnings and strict parental rules, many teens seem to adopt an invincible attitude regarding their safety. Even under the control of an experienced driver, a 3000 pound vehicle can become a deadly weapon. Without even adding underage alcohol abuse to the equation, sober teens are at a greater risk for injury or death in an automobile accident.
Sadly, the first experience with drinking typically occurs around the age of 13 and by their senior year of high school, 64 percent of students admit to being drunk at least once. A need to assert their independence and peer pressure are two common triggers for underage alcohol abuse. The combination of alcohol and inexperience proves to be a deadly force. As reported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1900 young people under the age of 21 are killed in alcohol related car accidents annually.
Stress abstinence, but be realistic. Even the best kids make mistakes in judgment. Reinforce that the teenager’s safety is the utmost concern.
Maintain an open dialogue with your teenagers about the use of alcohol and alcohol abuse.
Sign a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement stating the teenager agrees to be a responsible driver or accept the agreed upon repercussions. Furthermore, the teen agrees to call his parents for a safe ride home after consuming any alcohol and the parent agrees to provide transportation and postpone argument or punishment until the next day.
Do not keep alcohol readily available to teens in the home. Maintain an inventory to identify missing alcohol.
For many teenagers, underage drinking is nothing more than a rite of passage. However, research shows that teenagers who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol-related problems than those who don’t. Binge drinking, consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time, is a huge problem among underage drinkers. This type of high risk behavior can lead to alcohol poisoning.
If alcohol poisoning is suspected, it is imperative to get the victim medical treatment immediately. Hundreds of people die annually from alcohol poisoning. Most teens do not seek treatment until they have had an encounter with law enforcement, such as a DUI.
Like many addicts, most teens won’t admit to having a drinking problem, making it more likely for them to relapse. Inpatient treatment removes the teen from tempting surroundings and provides the support and cognitive therapy required to allow them to recognize their addiction. The therapy also teaches the teen to identify the triggers that prompt them to drink and methods to avoid those triggers.
Parental vigilance is vital in the prevention of underage alcohol abuse. Attitudes in the home regarding drinking are a great influence on a teenager. While an occasional drink may not seem like a huge concern, it is important to remember, it may be a matter of life or death.