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What Parents Can Do to Prevent Childhood Alcoholism

Posted Apr 30 2013 12:00pm

Alcohol is the most widely used mind-altering substance in the United States. It’s everywhere, used in religious ceremonies, sought after by the younger generation, often as either a way to break free, or a way to fit in.

It may sound easy to talk to your child about alcohol, but the unfortunate reality is that adolescents get mixed signals, even from their parents. It’s enjoyable to have a glass of wine over dinner. Though, alcohol affects everybody in a different way.

Alcohol can be detrimental to an immature brain, especially as it relates to development, but it can cause a lot more than developmental delays. An immature brain carries a predisposition towards addictive behavior, and a teenager’s first alcoholic beverage can elicit a sense of wonder.

Eventually, that wonder gives way to alcoholism.

Parents have a tremendous influence over if, and when, their child starts drinking. To this extent, they also have an influence over how their child drinks. When drinking, always exercise responsible consumption.

Begin talks early, and express your views about underage drinking in ways that they can relate to. Ask them to express theirs. Adolescents who know and respect their parents’ opinions about drinking, and who feel that they can talk to their parents about it, are more likely to respect family policies regarding alcohol consumption than those who don’t have the luxury of self-expression in the home.

Stay consistent with your reinforcements. Studies have shown that teens do feel that their parents should have a say regarding alcohol consumption, as long as they feel that the message is legitimate. Your consistency in this matter will pay you dividends, as the moment you begin to waver is the moment that your child turns to alcohol instead of you. 

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