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Why to Have the Alcohol Talk Early

Why to Have the Alcohol Talk Early Why to Have the Alcohol Talk Early

​​​Most parents don't realize how much their children drink—research shows that only 10% of parents think their teens drink, yet 52% of teens admit to drinking alcohol. But parents do believe other people's kids drink—the same study showed that parents estimated that 60% of 10th graders drink.

As parents, we need to remember the harsh reality that our children are not immune to the vices of this world, and alcohol is a frequent culprit.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), alcohol is the substance most frequently abused by teens, and its use leads to the most injuries and deaths from accidents, homicides, and suicides among teens.

​80% of Teens Say Their Parents are the Biggest Influence on Their Decision to Drink

You are the strongest force to protect your children from alcohol abuse. Even if you think your kids don't care what you have to say…they really do. The best solution for underage drinking is to talk to your kids, early and often.

Bring it up casually and be non-threatening about it. Tell them real stories of your life or when you have seen alcohol hurt people. Be clear about what your expectations are regarding drinking. Mostly, be honest. They'll love you for it.

So what's wrong with an occasional drink, especially if teens drink responsibly? Here's what the data says:

  • The younger they start, the more likely they are to have an adult drinking problem: Adults age 21 or older who started using alcohol before age 15 were almost 6 times as likely to have problems with alcohol than adults who first used alcohol at age 21 or older (15.1 percent vs. 2.6 percent), according to SAMHSA's 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).

  • Drinking isn't good for grades: About 25 percent of college students report that drinking lead to missing classes, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall, according to a 2002 study by The Harvard School of Public Health by Wechsler et al.

  • Unsafe sex and rape usually happen after drinking: In a large study between 1998-2005, 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 were victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. 400,000 students had unprotected sex and more than 100,000 students report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex (Hingson et al., 2009).

  • You'll wind up in the ER: In the same study, 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 were unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol (Hingson et al., 2009).

  • You can die: 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 died from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes (Hingson et al., 2009).


If you have questions about your child’s health, talk with your pediatrician.

Additional Information:

Last Updated
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2015)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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