Teenagers are more likely to use and abuse alcohol than any other drug, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The earlier a teenager begins to drink, the more likely she is to develop a problem, such as alcoholism, later in life, according to “Strategies to Prevent Underage Drinking” from the National Institutes of Health. A teenager suffers from alcoholism when she becomes dependent on alcohol, drinks in excess and has withdrawal symptoms when she stops drinking. Parental involvement is key to preventing teenage drinking and alcoholism.
Set a good example. If you drink in front of your teenager, always use moderation. Don’t joke about getting drunk or make light of drinking in front of your child.
Talk to your child about alcohol use from an early age. Explain the negative effects of overusing the drug and of drinking too young, and the long-term health problems that occur when a person drinks to excess. Have a healthy attitude about alcohol and explain that sometimes having a beer or a glass of wine is healthy behavior — for an adult. The younger your child is, the easier it will be to talk to him, as some children may develop attitudes as they grow older.
Keep communication open between your teenager and yourself. Always provide a listening ear when he needs to talk. Don’t judge your teenager to harshly or scold him when he admits to messing up or doing wrong.
Set up house rules and suitable consequences for breaking those rules with your teenager. Teenagers need guidance. If you do not explicitly tell them not to drink, many will try it. Follow through on the consequences if you catch your teenager breaking any rules.
Keep an eye on your teenager, but don’t be smothering. Allow her to have friends over and to spend time at her friends’ houses, but make sure an adult is present to prevent underage drinking or drug use. Introduce yourself to her friends’ parents.
Stay alert and watch for any warning signs of alcohol use or abuse that could lead to alcoholism if not stopped. Changes in behavior or mood swings can signal abuse, as can persistent slurred speech and bloodshot eyes, according to MayoClinic.com. A loss of interest in activities or hobbies or a drastic decline in grades also points to a problem that may be alcohol abuse.