Alcohol use is, sadly, not uncommon among teenagers. So what do you do if you find your teenager has been drinking? Here are some steps you can take.
1. Educate Yourself
First, it’s good to know the facts of teenage alcohol use. Over 4,300 deaths among underage youth have been caused by excessive drinking each year, according to the CDC. If you think your teen has been drinking, or around other teenagers who have been drinking, here are some warning signs to look for. These can range from increased fatigue to frequent headaches, or difficulty speaking. Other signs include depression, isolation, or increased struggle in school. Although these don’t always indicate alcohol abuse, they may also indicate a deeper issue, which can lead to alcohol use.
2. Talk With Them
If you have cause to believe your child may be using alcohol, the best thing you can do is calmly talk with them about it. Although it may be tempting to react strongly, just talking with them shows you care and opens up important channels of communication. You may also find out about some other issues they are having. Ask open-ended questions, and discuss the harm alcohol causes. You can also create a contract with them to establish some rules about drug and alcohol use and exposure.
3. Take Action
Establishing rules about behavior and activities can help with an alcohol abuse problem. A lot of alcohol use is encouraged by peer pressure, so it’s a good idea to keep track of where your teenager is, and encourage them to foster healthy friendships. Set an example by monitoring your own habits and discussion of alcohol use. You can also take other practical measures, such as getting rid of all alcohol in your house, or not allowing your teenager to visit a friend overnight, as this can be a common time for alcohol use. Finally, seek the help of a medical professional or counselor.
Knowing your teenager uses alcohol can be scary, but there is hope. Above all, remember you are their greatest support and you can encourage them through this tough time.