Bullying: What Can I Do?
(Posted October 2018)
Parents, have you witnessed symptoms of bullying with your teen or younger children? Are you confused as to what to be watching for? With the school term in full progress, the signs and symptoms of bullying may be surfacing but if you do not know what to watch for, you will struggle in addressing the issue. The website, www.youth gov, offers techniques that adults can use to help prevent bullying behaviors. As a caring parent these are important hints for you to know.
Understanding that bullying is a public health problem is a start. According to www.youth.gov, a quick and consistent message that bullying behavior is not acceptable can help halt the behavior over time. Unfortunately, bullying has long been accepted by many as a “rite of passage” for our young people. But remember, bullying is not a normal part of childhood. It is a public health problem. Bullying harms everyone involved, the youth who is bullied, the bully, and the community at large.
To address this issue, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (www.national-academies.org) developed a Toolkit as a resource for youth, parents, teachers and communities to address the bullying concern. The Toolkit, titled PREVENTING BULLYING Through Science, Policy, and Practice can be retrieved on https://www.nap.edu/resource/23482/toolkit/teachers/index.html.
In the Toolkit, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine identifies four main types of bullying they have defined as follows:
- Physical bullying involves the use of physical force (such as shoving, hitting, spitting, pushing, and tripping).
- Verbal bullying involves words or writing that cause harm (such as taunting, name calling, offensive notes or hand gestures, verbal threats).
- Relational bullying is behavior designed to harm the reputation and relationships of the targeted youth (such as social isolation, rumor-spreading, posting mean comments or pictures online).
- Damage to property is theft or damaging of the target youth’s property by the bully in order to cause harm.
- Remember, bullying can happen at any age including the early school years. It can happen in a variety of settings and online. Be the “bully warrior” and win the battle to eliminate bullying for our children.
Talk… Talk… Talk
(Posted August 2018)
Do you struggle with how and when to talk with your teen or young adult?
If you talk, is it difficult to find the right words to discuss life’s issues?
Do you want help with creating a safe and productive discussion regarding substance use?
The Partnership for Drug-free Kids has some effective guidelines for parents and other impactful adults to use when having this conservation with young people. The organization offers five tips on talking with a young person that addresses the potential barriers often created by this “talk.” The website: https://drugfree.org/article/how-to-talk-with-your-teen/ takes you through the following five steps:
- Choose a good time & place;
- Approach your talk with openness, active listening & “I” statements;
- Understand your influence as a parent/friend;
- Offer empathy & support;
- Keep in mind your teen’s brain is still developing.
If you have not had this conservation before, now is a good time to begin an ongoing discussion. With the new school year beginning and fall activities growing, the dangers associated with the use of substances becomes a definite risk. Support your young person with an honest, ongoing and open talk. Visit the Partnership for Drug-free Kids website at https://drugfree.org/ for more information. Have a safe and productive fall.
Create a Safer Home
(Posted July 2018)
Have you ever gone through your medicine cabinet and wondered what to do with all the pain medicines from your ankle sprain, surgery or your headaches? Do you hang on to the pills because you “might” need them sometime later? It may help you decide how and when to dispose of these substances if you understand the most commonly misused medications are opioids used in pain management. Unsafe prescribing and dispensing practices increase the potential for risk of opioid use disorder and a potential fatal overdose. Unfortunately, most people who misuse opioids have acquired them from a family member or friend. Often these are “borrowed” by the abuser without the person they were prescribed for knowing.
As household members, it is important to know the best ways to dispose of these dangerous unused substances. It is tempting to flush or throw away the drugs but it is not recommended the recommended way. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommends disposing of unused medications through drug take-back programs that are available in many locations. For the appropriate methods of disposal or sites that provide drop off boxes, visit the IDPH website page and click on the resources provided. http://www.dph.illinois.gov/opioids/prevention. Remember, opioids are addictive and opioids are deadly. Help prevent a tragedy.
Do You Know? Learn the Facts!
(Posted April 2018)
As a teen or young adult, you may not be aware of the current warnings generated by the Illinois Department of Public Health in regard to the increasing alarm about the synthetic cannabinoids that are causing adverse reactions for individuals using these products laced with rat poison. Between April 24, 2018 and March 7, 2018, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) documented over 153 cases of adverse reactions to the synthetic cannabinoids. Included among the reactions are coughing up blood, bleeding gums, and internal bleeding. Use of these synthetic chemicals is dangerous and has resulted in four reported deaths since March 7, 2018. IDPH reported the synthetic cannabinoid products, such as K2, spice, marijuana and legal weed, were obtained from convenience stores, dealers or friends. These products are sold for recreational use and marketed to you, the user, as instigating effects similar to marijuana.
With the occurrence of this health risk, it is important to be aware of the threatening environment created in our communities with this health concern. As a young person, you can make a difference by learning the facts and sharing them with your family and friends. The more you know about the dangers of using substances such as K2 or spice, the more prevention you can support within your environment. To learn more information about synthetic cannabinoid products, visit the IDPH Question & Answer page at: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/sites/default/files/publications/synthetic-cannabinoids-faq.pdf
Warning: Synthetic Cannabinoid Danger
(Posted April 2018)
Are you an informed parent or significant other? Do you know about the outbreak within Illinois of reported adverse reactions for individuals using synthetic cannabinoids laced with rat poison? Between April 24, 2018 and March 7, 2018, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) documented over 153 cases of adverse reactions to the synthetic cannabinoids. The reactions, such as coughing up blood, bleeding gums, and internal bleeding are dangerous and have resulted in four reported deaths since March 7, 2018. IDPH reported the synthetic cannabinoid products, such as K2, spice, marijuana and legal weed, were obtained from convenience stores or dealers or friends. These products are sold for recreational use and marketed to the user as generating similar effects of cannabis.
As a parent or significant other, it is vital that you become knowledgeable about the drug. Share the dangers with your families and friends. Be aware that the best prevention is to know the facts and talk about it with those in your life. To assist you in learning more about this serious health danger, visit the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) website at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cannabinoids-k2spice.
In addition, the IDPH website has daily synthetic cannabinoid updates at 1:30 p.m. The updates will continue as long as the synthetic cannabinoid outbreak in Illinois is occurring. The website also links to other websites that can help inform and educate you about the dangers of the synthetic cannabinoids being marketed in Illinois. It will also offer prevention approaches you may take within your community and your family. To access the information, link to the following: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/medical-cannabis/synthetic-cannabinoids . Help your community and your family stay healthy.
Supporting Your Youth
(Posted February 2018)
Recent traumatic events in our country have created stressful and worrisome times for students, schools, communities and parents alike. As caring families and communities, it is important that we are prepared to address trauma and support the healing process when we are faced with such impactful issues. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network have generated a collection of resources to assist all of us in supporting our young people who have experienced traumatic events such as a school shooting or physical violence of another type. The following is a partial list that may aid you in learning how to address trauma, where to find resources for healing and how to build resilience within your family and community.
Resources from SAMHSA:
Resources from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network:
- http://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/traumatic-grief/what-childhood-traumatic-grief/its-okay-remember (video)
Holiday Celebrations and Alcohol Use: Addressing Teen Issues
(Posted December 2017)
Families, parents and teens alike, look forward to the holidays. This season is time off to celebrate with your family and friends. Often, alcohol is a part of your holiday traditions. As wonderful as it is to be with family and friends, we, as responsible adults, need consider how the teens in our family view the alcohol use as a tradition. When teens observe adults around them drinking alcohol, it may seem like alcohol consumption is harmless. With this observation, it may be more likely your teen will think nothing wrong about consuming alcohol during the holiday celebrations. Understanding how teens often respond to examples set by adults in their lives, recognize it is important to talk to your teen about alcohol use during celebrations, parties, and social events. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has created a Drugs and Health Blog that provides a variety of educational tools for teachers and parents to use in addressing alcohol use during the holidays. Both teachers and parents can view the tools to effectively address the use of alcohol at holiday celebrations by going to: http://mailchi.mp/1383f595c3d3/educate-teens-about-alcohol-use-during-the-holidays?e=acb63a2e49. Help protect your teen, ensure that they are aware of the risks.
Reliable! Or is it?
(Posted September 2017)
Have you ever told someone a fact, or a fact as you believe it? And the fact was one you got from looking on the internet. In today’s web based learning and research, we often look up very important information in regard to our health and believe that because it is “on the website” that the information is accurate. So you are probably wondering which websites to trust and who has the most up-to-date information. The National Institutes of Health has developed a website, Using Trusted Resources. This resource is filled with tips to help you find trusted resources for your health information. To access this information, visit https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2017/09/health-information-you-can-trust. Remember, just because information is on the internet, it does not mean it is safe or accurate information. Be a smart consumer and seek the trusted web resources.
College: What Do I Need to Know?
(Posted July 2017)
Are you a parent or guardian of a young adult headed to college/university?
Are you concerned about how they will navigate their new environment?
Do you wonder if how much you should get involved prior to sending your young adult to college?
These questions are typical of parents sending their young adults off for the college or university experience. According to information provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2016), American college students reported 6% more alcohol use than their non-college peers and 9% more intoxication within a month period than their non-college peers. In addition, the research shows daily marijuana use among full-time students has more than tripled in the past 20 years. With this information in mind, if you looking for resources to help you talk with your student and support a healthy college experience, check out the two informative websites below:
- Department of Behavioral and Community Health, University of Maryland, Information for Parents at: http://sph.umd.edu/department/bch/cyahd/information-parents.
- College Parents Matter, Tools and scripts to improve communication with your college student at: http://www.collegeparentsmatter.org/.
National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (November 2016)
Take a Visit to the “COOL SPOT”
(Posted March 2017)
Parents of teens through young adults will enjoy a trip to the “Cool Spot” website. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) website called the “Cool Spot” has many interactive learning tools and games that educate participants about alcohol, addiction, health, and peer pressure. Furthermore, the “Cool Spot” links families and teens to a variety of resources that provide information on current substance abuse research, available help/support programs, and strategies for living a healthy lifestyle. Visit the “Cool Spot” by going to https://www.thecoolspot.gov/ and challenge your tween or teen to the Expectations Game or the Bag of Tricks Game. Have fun and learn lots!
(Posted January 2017)
The good news is here. The 2016 Monitoring the Future (MTF) annual survey results are in. The results were released last month by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the results indicate that teens today are less likely to use alcohol or tobacco than in past years. The percentage of teens who are smoking and consuming alcohol is dropping. For example, in 1996 22.2 percent of high school seniors reported smoking daily, but in 2016 only 4.8 percent of high school seniors smoked daily. The downward trend is good news for the health of teens now and in the future. You may learn more about the outcome of the MTF survey by linking to the websites below.
Support Holiday Safety and Recovery: Tips for Families
(Posted December 2016)
If you have a family member who is in recovery from alcohol and other substances, you may be struggling with ways to support them through the upcoming holidays. There is no doubt that families can help the recovering person as they navigate the holiday events. In the festive and busy events held throughout the holidays, the potential for relapse is higher without a prevention plan. The risk is especially true for a person who is experiencing their first clean and sober holiday season. To acquire some “tried and true” tips to help support your family in maintaining a safe and meaningful holiday for all, visit the websites below. Remember, as a family, you may choose to try some new activities to help celebrate safe and happy memories for your family.
Home for the Holidays. Addiction Recovery, The Right Step. (2012). Found at: https://www.rightstep.com/addiction-recovery/home-for-the-holidays.
Tips for Enjoying Happy, Sober Holidays. Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. (2015). Retrieved on November 17, 2016 from http://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/articles/tips-for-enjoying-sober-holidays.
Prevention Tips for Parents
(Posted August 2016)
Believe it or not, it’s true. You, the parent, are the greatest influence on your tweens and teens’ decisions when it comes to alcohol and other drug use. The National Council on Alcoholism & Dependence (NCADD) research indicates that 2/3 of youth ages 13-17 state that losing their parents respect is one of the main reasons they prefer to not drink alcohol or use other drugs. (NCADD, 2015) The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that it may not seem like your teen is listening but the research shows that they are. (SAMHSA, 2016)
Each of these organizations has good information for you to access when addressing substance use with your tweens and teens. NCADD provides usable tips for preventing substance use in their article, Ten Tips for Prevention for Parents. The article may be found at https://www.ncadd.org/family-friends/there-is-help/ten-tips-for-prevention-for-parents.
In February 2016, SAMHSA updated their Talk. They Hear You campaign materials. One of the tools is a Talk. They Hear You app. The app features an interactive simulation that helps you discover the do’s and don’ts when talking to your teens about underage drinking. By using avatars, you will:
- Practice bringing up the subject of alcohol,
- Discover the questions to ask,
- Generate ideas for an ongoing conversation about alcohol use.
- You can find directions to load the app on your phone or computer on: http://www.samhsa.gov/underage-drinking/mobile-application?WT.ac=OSAS_20150827_TTHY_LandingPage
How Do You Handle Stress?
(Posted June 2016)
<Did you know there are at least three types of stress? Did you know your body responds to each type in similar ways? The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines stress as: “The brain’s response to any demand.” Many events can spark off the stress reaction. One of the main stressors is change caused by either mild or major life alterations. As a parent, you experience stress on a regular basis. How you handle these stresses will affect both your physical and your emotional health. (NIMH, 2016). The NIMH Fact Sheet on Stress offers strategies for handling your stress and links to other resources available on the website. Take a look. Learn to manage your stress. Relax and experience a fun, rewarding summer. For helpful hints go to: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml
Do You Know? The ABCD Study
(Posted May 2016)
Do you ever wonder how drug and alcohol use would impact your teen’s brain? If so, you are not alone. On April 11, 2016, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) announced a new longitudinal study involving 10,000 youth, 9 – 10 years of age, from across the United States. The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (ABCD Study) will follow these youth every year over a long period of time. The NIDA researchers hope to answer a variety of questions. For example, “Is there a link between substance use and mental health?” or, “How do genetic factors affect a teen’s choice around using drugs?” In addition, they will study how sports injuries affect the brain and they will monitor how the lack of sleep affects schoolwork. All these issues relate to a teen’s ability to live a healthy lifestyle. To find out more about the study and how to review the results, go to: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/what-do-drugs-do-teens-brains-abcd-study-looks-answers.
Do You Know? Take a Look
(Posted April 2016)
Do you know what your teens are learning about substance use and abuse? Check out the interactive opportunities at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) website for youth. The interactive website is designed as a resource for tweens and teens. It gives them current information about alcohol and other drugs. The information is provided in a language teens relate to and is delivered through interactive experiences that challenge them to learn.
Each January, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), conducts an annual National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW) for teens. As part of the 2016 National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week, NIDA placed a new interactive National Drug & Alcohol IQ Challenge Quiz on the teen website. Test out your knowledge by taking the newest quiz on http://teens.drugabuse.gov/quiz/national-drug-facts-week/take-iq-challenge/2016. If you are ready for an extra challenge, just click on the NIDA teen site at http://teens.drugabuse.gov/activities/test-your-knowledge.
Marijuana: Helping Parents Navigate the Changing Environment
(Posted February 2016)
On November 9, 2015, Illinois opened the first dispensaries for the sale of medical marijuana. As the state of Illinois begins the process of legalizing medical marijuana, parents may have new concerns about how to talk to their tweens and teens about the risk of the drug. According to the Monitoring the Future 2014 survey, marijuana use among youth has not increased in the past few years, but the number of youth who believe marijuana use is risky is decreasing. The legalization of marijuana for medical use or adult recreational use is occurring in a mounting number of states and may be affecting teen perception of risk. (NIDA, 2015)
To assist parents in talking with tweens and teens about marijuana concerns, take a look at the fact sheet from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) called Drug Facts: Marijuana. The fact sheet can be downloaded at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana. For parents who want to know more about the medical marijuana issue, NIDA also publishes a fact sheet called Drug Facts: Is Marijuana Medicine? That information is available at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine.
In addition, NIDA provides a booklet and supportive online information to assist parents with the “talk.” The helpful booklet, Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, is available on NIDA’s website at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-parents-need-to-know. To be prepared for possible questions (or challenges) regarding the risk of marijuana use, take a look at the resources provided and begin the discussion with your teen.
Marijuana. (September 2015). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved from on December 22, 2015
Is Marijuana Medicine? (July 2015). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine on December 22, 2015
Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Miech, R. A., Bachman, J. G., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2015). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use: 1975-2014: Overview, key findings on adolescent drug use. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan.
Family Traditions: Love Them or Lose Them?
(Posted December 2015)
What special memories do you have from your childhood?
Who created these memories with you?
What family traditions will you pass on to your teens?
With the holidays fast approaching, the word tradition often sneaks into the holiday discussion. As you become busy with the planning, you may consider leaving the “family traditions” behind. They may feel like too much work. They may cause family quarrels. You may be struggling with which traditions to continue. Don’t panic or “stress out.” Understanding the significance of traditions may be helpful. Tradition is simply the handing down of long-established customs or beliefs from generation to generation. The passing of traditions is most often accomplished by word of mouth or by example. (Oxford Dictionary)
Our traditions are important regardless of what holiday we celebrate. Remember, traditions may be a serious ritual or a fun game night. Most importantly, our traditions are a way to connect with each other and provide links with the past. With today’s blended families, single parent families and multi-generational homes, many of us struggle with blending or maintaining past traditions. (Clifton, 2011) Whether you go to grandma’s house for dinner, watch a favorite holiday movie together or participate in a religious service, tradition creates a sense of anticipation and belonging important to family wellness. (Brennan, 2013) Being flexible and open to change may help lower your stress and support family traditions. Relax. Don’t throw out your traditions, embrace and enjoy your traditions.
Clifton, Jacob. “Are Family Traditions Important?” 25 July 2011. HowStuffWorks.com. <http://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/family-traditions/family-traditions-important.htm> Retrieved November 17, 2015.
Brennan, PhD., Michelle L. “Why Traditions Might Be More Important Than You Think” 15 November 2013. http://blogs.psychcentral.com/balanced-life/2013/11/why-holiday-traditions-might-be-more-important-than-you-think/. Retrieved November 18, 2015.
The Cool Spot: Toolbox for Tweens
(Posted October 2015)
Are you the parent or guardian of an 11-13 year old? If so, take a look at The Cool Spot website. The Cool Spot was created by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). The web content is based on a curriculum for younger teens (tweens) developed by the University of Michigan. The curriculum was created for the Alcohol Misuse Prevention Study (AMPS), a NIAAA project.
One goal of AMPS project was to give young teens a clearer picture about alcohol use among their peers. Tweens tend to overestimate their peers alcohol use. The site gives them factual information to help reduce peer pressure to drink alcohol. Besides accurate information, the website provides skill building activities to increase tweens ability to resist peer pressure. The website uses interactive quizzes and other visually appealing challenges such as Flash Games to engage youth in learning and building healthy life skills. These skills will support appropriate decisions regarding alcohol use.
Take a minute and check out this resource: http://www.thecoolspot.gov
Navigating Teen Substance Use Disorder Treatment (Posted October 2015)
As a parent, realizing that your teen may be experiencing a substance use disorder can leave you feeling overwhelmed and bewildered. You may begin blaming yourself or others for the using behavior. However, it is very important to move from guilt and blame into action. You, the parent, need to intervene when you suspect your teen is abusing alcohol or other substances. Educating yourself about the signs and symptoms of substance use will better prepare you for the next step. That step is talking with your teen to express your concern in a non-blaming manner. Include in the talk what choices you are willing to support and what choices you are not willing to support. Let your teen know their using behavior is not a choice you are willing to support. Your concern and involvement is so important to the process of helping your teen. Research supports that the primary element influencing successful treatment and recovery for teenagers is parent and family involvement. (Illinois Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse/Illinois Federation of Families, 2008).
Now comes the question: “What do I do next?” No matter how your teen responds to your concern, it is important to enlist help for your teen and for the family. Often families isolate as the teen’s use increases. Reaching out to a professional for help is vital for addressing the issues related to your teen and their using behavior. Often parents do not know where to begin. Fortunately, there are resources available to help guide the process. First, gather support for yourself by talking with professionals who have experience with substance use disorders and the treatment available in your area. Agencies that treat teens are able to conduct an assessment and make recommendations for the appropriate level of care. The Illinois Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DASA) is the agency responsible for overseeing the licensure of treatment facilities providing services throughout Illinois. The DASA website will provide you with a directory of licensed facilities by city and county. To access the directory follow these steps:
- Go to: www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx
- Click on “Customers” in the upper right corner;
- Select Alcoholism & Addiction from the drop down;
- On next page, click on the second option titled DASA Licensed Substance Abuse Providers;
- On the next page click on DASA Licensed Substance Abuse Providers by County, City, Township (PDF) on the left lower corner.
- This will open the directory.
In addition, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also provides a directory of licensed facilities throughout the country. You may access this directory on www.samhsa.gov. Click on the Treatment Locator on the upper right corner. The list of facilities in both directories is provided by the city, county and state. These resources will assist you in finding the professional guidance your family needs for treatment and recovery.
As you and your teen begin to seek help, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has five key elements to keep in mind. Remember:
- Effective treatments ideally include a variety of treatment settings and approaches.
- No single treatment is right for everyone. The best treatment addresses each person’s various needs.
- Individual treatment plans and services must be assessed and modified to meet a patient’s changing needs.
- Remaining in treatment for the right period of time is critical to recovery. It will vary for each patient.
- Self-help groups complement and extend the effects of professional treatment. (NIDA, 2013)
If you need assistance in finding resources for the treatment and recovery process, please contact the Illinois Family Resource Center at (217) 258-6018.
For additional information go to:
A Parent’s Journey: Navigating Teen Substance Use. (2008). Chicago, IL: Illinois Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse and Illinois Federation of Families.
Seeking Drug Abuse Treatment: Know What to Ask. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (Revised 2013). NIH Publication No. 13-7764
Do You Know…? (Posted August 2015)
Do you know…the BAD news is many teens, and parents, think “all teens” are drinking alcohol. The GOOD news is prevention works! The vast majority of tweens and teens do not use alcohol. “Everyone is doing it” is a myth!! The research data shows that alcohol use actually declined from 2002 until 2013. Teens are realizing that the risks linked to alcohol consumption are high. (CDC, 2014) The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that current, binge and heavy alcohol use by 12 to 20 year olds decreased from 2002 until 2012. The rate of alcohol use went from 28.8% down to 24.3% during that time. (SAMHSA, 2013) Even though young people are recognizing that they do not need alcohol to have fun or fit in, there is still work to be done to further reduce underage drinking.
As a parent it is good to know that June and July are the peak times for a young person to first try alcohol. SAMHSA states that on average young people take their first drink in the month of July. This information makes the summer months the prime time to talk to tweens and teens about the dangers of drinking alcohol. Young people report that alcohol is easy to obtain. That makes it especially important for parents to begin or continue to talk about underage drinking in the months when teens have extra time to gather and drink. Summertime presents many opportunities for talking with your kids. Take advantage of road trips, bike rides, ballgames and vacation time for a less stressful “talk time.” (SAMHSA, 2015)
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that young people from ages 12 to 20 drink about 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. Teens drink less often but more at a time, consuming much of their alcohol by binge drinking. This behavior accounts for 90% of young people’s consumption of alcohol. (NIAAA, 2013) To better understand what binge drinking is, view the Fact Box below.
|Fact Box: What is “binge drinking?”
For adults, binge drinking means drinking so much within about 2 hours that blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels reach 0.08g/dL, the legal limit of intoxication. For women, this typically takes about 4 drinks, and for men, about 5. But, according to recent research estimates, it takes fewer drinks for children and teens to reach these BAC levels.
To assist you in addressing the issue of teenage alcohol use, read the information provided below:
- Drinking alcohol and binge drinking become more prevalent as young people get older.
- Many youth have easy access to alcohol, often times free.
- Many youth report access to alcohol through family members or find it at home.
- Underage drinking is dangerous because it may cause death, injury, poor judgement, and risk of physical and sexual assault as well as other problems.
- Alcohol consumption in teen years interferes with brain development.
- Research shows that children whose parents are actively involved in their lives are less likely to drink alcohol. (NIAAA, 2013)
- This month the website YOUTH page has an article titled “Think About It.” The page contains related information for your teens. Take a look. Participate in the Myths Versus Facts challenge on the YOUTH page. It may help with the initial “summer talk.” For more in-depth information review the NIAAA booklet, Rethinking Drinking: Alcohol and Your Health. This publication is a good resource for adults and their youth. This is found at: http://rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov. Opening this discussion may not be as difficult as you think. Use the resources provided and start TALKING.
Harding, Frances M. (June 2015). Summer is Prime Time to Talk to Kids About the Dangers of Underage Drinking. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved on July 10, 2015 from: http://blog.samhsa.gov/2015/06/16/summer-is-prime-time-to-talk-to-kids-about-the-dangers-of-underage-drinking/#.VqKWypX2a70
Underage Drinking. (July 2013). National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved on July 15, 2015 from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/underagedrinking/underage_fact.pdf
Underage Drinking. (October 2014). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on July 23, 2015 from: http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/underage-drinking.htm
Facts on Underage Drinking. (October 2013). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved on July 24, 2015 from: http://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/media/pdf/UAD_Fact_Sheet_OCT2013_508.pdf?src=|5|
Do You Know? (July 2015)
Do you know, most likely sometime before 21 your teen will have to make a choice about whether they will drink alcohol? Don’t assume your teen will decline. 10% of eighth grade young people report alcohol use in the past month. 39% of high school seniors report they drank in the past month. Drinking alcohol for teens is a risky behavior and this behavior often includes binge drinking. Alcohol use, especially binge drinking, may cause the judgment part of the brain to slow down in development. Under normal circumstances the brain usually keeps forming until about 25 years of age. (Abedin, 2014).
So as a parent, this may be scary. You can do something. Talk. You may be asking, “Do they listen?” Yes, they do. The research indicates that teens listen to their parents when it comes to issues related to drinking and smoking. This is especially true if the message is consistent and has a strong no use message. Research indicates only 19% of the teens feel that parents should have a say in their music selection and only 26% believe parents should have a say in what they wear. In comparison, 80% of the teens believe parents should have a say in whether they drink alcohol. (NIAAA, 2013)
To assist parents in talking with teens, the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) launched the “Talk, They Hear You” campaign. This provides parents with the tools and information they need to start talking with their children about the dangers of alcohol. Parents can access these helpful tools including a mobile app and written information at www.samhsa.gov/underage-drinking. This web address will take you to the campaign information that includes resources to help reinforce the underage drinking prevention messages. Remember to talk early, talk often. That’s just good parenting. (SAMHSA, 2013)
- Retrieved on May 26, 2015: Abedin, Shahreen. Your Child and Alcohol. (April 2014)
- Retrieved on May 26, 2015: Parenting to Prevent Childhood Alcohol Use. (2013) National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. NIH Publication No. 10-7467
- Retrieved on May 26, 2015: Underage Drinking. (October 2014)