Springtime means it's time for prom, graduation parties and time for parents to be more present than absent.Studies show that spring is the time alcohol use and experimentation increases among teens.Since April is Alcohol Awareness Month, why not take time to consider what can be done to prevent alcohol abuse in our families and in our community? Here are some steps you can take to improve our community where alcohol use is concerned:
1 Communicate! Most teens (seven out of 10) want their parents to talk to them about not using alcohol. Results from the "MOST of US" study done with youth in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation brought up this point.2 Don't serve alcohol to minors and don't purchase it for them. Many teens report they obtain alcohol at home first. Many report that an older sibling or friend is the one to purchase it for them.
3 Model responsible drinking in your home. If teens see their parents drinking to "unwind" but don't see other ways to cope with stress, they are more likely to assume drinking is the best way to de-stress. Parental "partying" in front of youth or with youth also sends mixed signals.
4 Don't host a youth party at your home where alcohol is provided. Many parents view this as responsible behavior and a "safer" way to let kids have a little fun. Remember serving alcohol to minors is illegal and parents will be held accountable.
5 Realize one of the reasons underage drinking is illegal: The teen brain isn't fully developed until the early 20s. As the prefrontal cortex develops and teens are able to reason better they are better equipped with cognitive reasoning and abstract thinking skills. Truncating this crucial growth only takes away from the potential of our youth.
6 Talk to your kids about their future plans and help them stay involved in positive things they enjoy. Both communication and activities are strong methods of prevention within the home.
7 Look for other adults you trust who your kids can talk to and listen to. When there's tension between you and your teens, find others to help out. A neighbor, friend, coach, teacher or counselor would most likely be glad to help.
8 Look for ways to be involved in the community to reduce the accessibility of alcohol. Keep abreast of all the different ways alcohol is marketed to youth. Spend one day counting how many ads you see that target youth for substance use and you'll be amazed.
9 Don't be a dropout parent! Parents of teens often decrease involvement. This is a time to be involved more rather than less. Involvement and supervision are key protective factors.