This article offers a scenario about a teen who is the child of an alcoholic father and starts drinking because she is stressed and depressed. A series of interactive questions can be used to explore the issue of underage drinking with your mentee. Also included are facts about the effects of alcohol and the legal consequences of underage drinking, as well as tips about how mentors can help.
Drug and Alcohol Use
Today's teens are in a very different environment – with pressures, technology and priorities vastly changed from when you were a teenager. Studies show that adolescents who haven’t tried drugs or alcohol are more likely to start during times of transition in order to cope with stress. But don’t worry – while change is a part of life, risky behavior, like drug and alcohol use, doesn’t have to be. Transitions and Teens: A Guide for Parents has everything you need to know to help teens stay healthy and drug-free during transition periods like changing schools, parental divorce, breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend, or moving to a new home.
Alcohol, Marijuana and The Developing Brain
The adolescent brain is particularly vulnerable to the effects of marijuana (and alcohol) as it is in a period of strong developmental growth. Using brain scans, researchers have found abnormalities in areas of the brain that interconnect brain regions involved in memory, attention, decision-making, language and executive functioning skill. These effects can be mild or severe, depending on how long a person used, how much use occurred, what other substances were used, and how vulnerable a particular brain is.
The Most Important Conversation You Can Have
Research has shown that parents are the most powerful influence in a child’s life — greater than peers, popular music, television, celebrities and the media. Kids who consistently learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are 50% less likely to use drugs and alcohol than those who do not. But a trusted adult mentor can also be just as powerful an influence.
Talking to your mentee about the risks of drugs and alcohol isn’t as hard as you think. There are some great web sites that provide free, easy to use tools and tips to help you have ongoing conversations with your mentee to keep them healthy and drug-free. We'll also give you links in this section to websites designed just for teens that you can explore with your mentee.
The Partnership at Drugfree.org provides the latest news and research, information on the risks and effects of specific drugs, how to combat prescription drug abuse, and more tips on talking to teens about alcohol and drugs.
The Power of Parents: MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) has created a powerful new web resource where you can find various strategies for preventing underage drinking. It's a place for parents and others to ask questions and get answers from various experts in underage drinking prevention. You can also download the MADD parent Handbook with ideas for bringing up the topic of underage drinking and making the conversation go easier.
Too Smart to Start, a website developed by SAMHSA, offers a section for families, educators and community members on how they can help prevent the underage use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs.
You may also be interested in the blog site, Intervene, an online community of parents concerned about their teens' alcohol and drug use.