How you act around your children is how your children will act around others later in life. Being an outgoing, friendly person can help them learn to be the same. Encouraging your children from a young age to interact with others can help them develop good social skills. The same goes for drinking habits. One of the best things you can do to prevent your teen from binge drinking is to set a good example.
What Is Binge Drinking?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as “a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 g/dL (grams per deciliter) or more.” This usually happens when men have five or more drinks and when women have four or more drinks within two hours. The risks associated with binge drinking can be dangerous, and possibly fatal. Besides alcohol poisoning, which certainly can be fatal, here are some other risks your teen faces when drinking too much:
- Injuries (from car crashes, falls, and fire)
- Intentional injuries (like gun violence, sexual assault, and domestic violence)
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Unplanned pregnancy (and subsequently children possibly born with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder)
- Liver disease
- Brain damage
- Sexual dysfunction
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- High blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases
- Unintended weight gain
Helping your teen avoid these risks starts with setting a good example and helping them find healthy outlets.
10 Things to Do to Prevent Teen Drinking
1. Get Them Involved in Activities
One of the big reasons teens drink and do drugs is out of boredom. By stimulating your children through sports, academic, extracurricular, and other activities, you keep them engaged in their environment. They will be less likely to seek out bad behaviors to experience their world.
Interacting with people and the outdoors sober is the biggest gift you can give your teen, especially if addiction runs in your family. Showing them how lovely and entertaining the world can be will give them the tools to cope later.
2. Keep an Open Line of Communication
An important step to preventing your teen from binge drinking (or drinking at all) is to open up a constant line of communication. They should know that they can come to you for their needs. Although you are a parent and offering “judgment-free” advice isn’t likely, your kids must understand that no matter what they have to say, you will hear them out.
It’s easier than ever to communicate with our children with cell phones and computers. While your child is not at home, you can keep the communication going. Texting and email also allow your child to contact you in a way that’s not face-to-face if the topic of conversation is embarrassing or difficult for them to discuss. Open and honest communication with your children, whatever age they are, should be one of your main goals as a parent.
If your teenager has been binge drinking, you will need to discuss it with them from a position of authority. That doesn’t mean starting with a “Do as I say!” attitude. It means being educated and knowledgeable about the real dangers of underage drinking, including binge drinking.
3. Be An Active Part of Their Lives
A lot of drug and alcohol prevention is just trying to be a good parent. Being a good parent doesn’t mean supervising your teen’s every movement, but it does mean being around for the important parts. This communicates to them that they come to you during the best of times and the worst: they can trust you to be there for them when they need you.
To be honest, you are likely, at some point, to know that your teenager has tasted an alcoholic drink and maybe even smoked a joint. However, a well-parented child is far less likely to begin abusing these substances or others. Being a good parent has very little to do with observing (or even supervising) your teen’s every waking movement, but it certainly does mean being there for the moments in your teen’s life that really matter to them.
4. Give Them Reasons to Say “No” to Binge Drinking
This is an extremely important tactic to keep teens from binge drinking. Helping adolescents form goals is imperative to their future in all things, not only in avoiding drugs and alcohol. By creating concrete goals, a teenager has something to lose if they were to drink underage and suffer consequences for it.
Sit down with your children and discuss goals. Tell them your goals, and together, explore what your teen’s goals are. They may be to make the high school basketball team, get a part in the school play, or get into a favorite college. Whatever it is, encourage them to achieve and remind them of the risk they take by participating in illicit activities.
5. Don’t Keep Alcohol in the House
This is easier said than done, but if you are worried your teen may be at risk of binge drinking, remove all alcohol from the home. Sure, you may have a party or friends over where alcohol is consumed, but be sure you don’t get too inebriated. Even though you may have guests, your first role is not to host but to parent. It’s far more important to prevent your teen from binge drinking.
Those who are susceptible to substance abuse and possibly addiction know this: temptation can never be resisted. If there’s alcohol in your house, and your teenager likes drinking, it’ll cross their mind soon enough as to how to get their hands on it. Maybe it will just be taking a bottle to a party without asking, or maybe it will become something worse.
6. Know Your Child’s Friends
This should be an easy thing to do, but with teens’ schedules being busy and with the use of cell phones, it can be difficult to keep track of your child’s friends. Mingle with other parents and your teen’s friends at school functions. It will help put a face with a name and give you a chance to meet other parents. Together, you can keep teens safe from underage binge drinking. Knowing your teen’s friends can also help you if your adolescent begins hanging around with new people.
Changes in friends can indicate a drug or alcohol problem. Make a note of which friends your teen is spending more time with and if they look or act differently when they come home from being out with them.
7. Know the Legal Consequences of Your Teen Binge Drinking
According to Washington State law, “Persons under the age of 21 may not acquire, possess, or consume alcohol. Nor may other persons furnish alcohol to anyone under 21 or permit underage consumption on-premises within their control. Penalty: Maximum $500 fine, two months imprisonment, or both.” By breaking the law and underage drinking, teens run a huge risk to their reputations and can ruin their chances at playing school sports and attending good colleges.
As a parent of a teenager, it’s imperative you know the legal consequences should your child be caught drinking, buying alcohol, or acting drunk. It’s also imperative that your teen knows what the state law says. By participating in underage binge drinking, your teenager will be breaking the law and guilty of underage drinking. Additionally, you or another person run the risk of providing alcohol to a minor, which can bring its own fines. Other legal fees related to property damage or personal injuries may also be incurred, leaving you liable.
8. Find Local Organizations that Encourage Safe Fun for Teens
There are plenty of activities your teen can do that don’t involve alcohol or drugs. If your family is involved in church, see if they have a youth group. If hiking and the outdoors are of a bigger interest to you and your teen, try to find excursion groups that guide teens on outdoor activities. By getting teens involved with peer groups that encourage them to engage in healthy, age-appropriate activities, they can enjoy themselves without being pressured into underage or binge drinking.
9. Be a Great Example for Your Adolescent
It seems easier said than done, but being a good example for your teen is one of the best tactics to prevent binge drinking and making other poor life choices. It’s easy to tell a teen what to do, but it’s much harder to convince them to do something that you are incapable of practicing yourself. Work hard to think through how your actions may affect your teen. It’s crucial that you don’t lose their respect, or parenting will become much more difficult for you.
10. Spend Time Discussing Underage Drinking
Honesty should be practiced daily when it comes to dealing with your teen. Take the time to discuss underage drinking with your adolescents. Tell them what they need to be aware of and how to decline a drink when their friends want them to join in. This conversation can be done on a car ride, on a walk, or at the dinner table. Don’t be afraid to broach the subject even when your teen doesn’t seem interested. To prevent consequences that can occur from binge drinking, it’s important to prevent binge drinking in the first place. Knowledge is power, so be sure to give teens the tools they need to say “no” to underage drinking.
If your teen still chooses to binge drink, you do have options. Professional help can be sought through counseling, support groups, and rehab centers like Northpoint Washington. You don’t have to face this alone as a parent.
Contact Northpoint Washington and Discover How to Prevent Binge Drinking
Northpoint Washington is an alcohol addiction treatment center that offers a variety of services to help individuals struggling with alcohol abuse and addiction. Our trained staff can provide you with the support and guidance necessary to help your teen overcome binge drinking habits and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Call us today at 425.437.3298 or complete our online form to learn more about our program and how we can assist you in preventing your child from binge drinking.