School is almost back in session, and so are the back-to-school parties. Experimentation with alcohol may seem like a rite of passage, but we lose nearly 5,000 teens a year to alcohol use.
The shift from childhood to adolescence to adulthood can be jarring, particularly because of the emotional, physical, and hormonal changes that come with it. Studies have associated underage drinking with the increase in independence teens find as they get older, meaning teens could be more likely to drink just because of their age range.
One in seven 8th graders try alcohol for the first time within the first few weeks of school, not because they are actively seeking to engage in risky behavior, but often in tandem with growing older.
Risk-taking behaviors, such as drinking and driving, are the most significant cause of alcohol-related teen deaths. The brain keeps forming well into our twenties, which puts teens at the cognitive disadvantage of not being fully developed as they gain more and more independence. Impulse control is one cognitive process still under construction for adolescents and can make it harder to avoid taking risks or succumbing to peer pressure.
If a child starts actively drinking by the age of 15, they have a much higher chance of creating a long-term dependence on alcohol. Expectancy has also been associated with underage drinking: if a child expects it to be a pleasurable experience, they are more likely to try it for themselves.
So, how do we help provide guidance as parents during this particularly vulnerable part of the year? It starts with setting our intentions and expectations as we transition from summer (a time of independence for many kiddos) to school (a more structured routine). Start having conversations about drinking now, before the temptations start.
Discuss the boundaries your home has with alcohol, whatever they may be, early and reiterate them as often as necessary.
If your family needs additional support for your unique situation, please give us a call at 888-966-8604 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to connect with one of our specialists. Our phone, email, and hearts are open 24/7–let’s connect.