It’s the holiday season when family and friends gather to celebrate together. It’s also a time when many teens find the opportunity and access to experiment and use alcohol and other drugs. Many teens report that they obtain the alcohol they drink from their parents, friends’ parents, siblings, or older friends, with or without permission.
Parents are still the strongest influencers in their children’s lives. Among 10-18 year olds, 65 percent cite their parents as the leading influence for them not to drink. Help make this holiday season safe for teens by following these tips compiled by the Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County:
- Make time to talk with your children. The holidays are a time to reconnect as a family. Make sure they understand the risks of underage drinking and drug use.
- Educate your family on the risks associated with underage drinking and its proven harmful effects on the brain. The legal drinking age is 21, and students who wait until then are 84 percent less likely to develop an addiction than those who start earlier.
- Make it clear to your child(ren) that you do NOT approve of their drinking alcohol or using drugs. For students returning home from college, you likely will need to remind them of your expectations.
- Ensure that alcohol or other substances will not be available at parties your teen attends. Check in with other parents to verify there will be parental supervision, and that events will be alcohol-free.
- Be vigilant in your own home about NOT providing access to alcohol or drugs. Be sure to lock up your liquor cabinet when you are away. If you host a party in your own home for adults, keep an eye on the alcohol and teens at the party.
- Know that an adult who provides alcohol to a minor is breaking the law and risking that teen’s life.
- Secure other cabinets and make sure all your medications and prescriptions are secure. Be aware of the dangers of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, including cough syrup, and how they can be misused.
Please help protect your child’s bright future by providing a safe, alcohol- and drug-free season of celebrations for your son or daughter. Visit www.unifiedpreventioncoalition.org for more information.
The Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County is a nonprofit organization with more than 50 community partners working together to keep youth and young adults safe and drug-free. To read more of UPC's blog posts on Patch, click here.