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Discussing alcohol with your teen may save pain, heartache, their life

by Kathleen Sheffield
| December 8, 2011 11:37 AM

What is your kid going to do during the holidays?

As we approach the Christmas holiday, we need to ask ourselves as parents or caregivers, “what are our kids doing this holiday weekend?”

Some will be visiting family out of town, some going outdoors, and others will be staying home “with nothing to do.”

Unfortunately, drinking might play a big role in what they are doing this holiday season. As adults, we need to look at what we can do about that.

Most people do not realize that the State of Montana spends $246,000 each year in costs associated with underage drinking: medical care, work loss, and pain and suffering.

It breaks down to $3.04 per drink that each underage youth consumes; the state average for a retail drink is $1.31. Montana youth drank an average of 5.0 drinks per day in contrast to legal customers who had only 2.0 drinks.

Many adults believe that as long as the kids stay home and drink that is OK. It is not: especially if it is not your own child … and if they aren’t yours, they then decide to drive home. This is where the big trouble starts but it doesn’t stop there!

Teenage drunken driving nationwide kills eight teens every day!

In Montana, an estimated 10 traffic fatalities and 470 nonfatal traffic injuries were attributed to driving after underage drinking during 2009. The numbers for nonfatal crashes are only the ones reported.

Montana reported in 2009, that an estimated 130 teen pregnancies and 2,799 teens having risky sex were attributed to underage drinking. 

There were also three homicides during this same period and more than 2,300 nonfatal violent crimes and 4,900 property crimes. The victims of the property crimes were not usually teens but unrelated adults.

What is the alternative?

First, talk to your child about drinking. Most teens say that parent pressure has a greater impact than peer pressure.

The thought of disappointing their parents outweighed the pressure from their friends to drink. Make a pact with your child that if they do drink, that they will call you to pick them up.

There is always someone who has a phone. Have them call!

Don’t provide alcohol to underage drinkers in your home or buy it for them to consume outside of your home. The consequences for them and you are too great!

Not all teenagers are drinking but if you ask your child, I bet they know someone who is.

Don’t let your child become a member of the MIP club (Minor in Possession).

Start the conversation now, so when someone asks you what your child is doing this weekend, you are comfortable in knowing that it does not involve alcohol.