Most parents and caregivers are very diligent today trying to stay a step ahead of their children when it comes to underage drinking and substance abuse. They talk with their young children and teens about the dangers involved with drug use as well as the illegal aspect of underage drinking and using drugs.
It isn't easy being a parent or caregiver today nor is it easy being a kid growing up because drinking and using drugs is beginning to be common recreational enjoyment among many young people.
By now a lot of parents and caregivers have cleaned out their medicine cabinets and safely disposed of their unneeded or outdated prescription drugs and over the counter medications. Prescription drug take back events have made it very easy and safe for people to get rid of prescription drugs in order to keep them from getting into the wrong hands.
Prescription drug abuse is becoming increasingly popular among young people and we have to do everything we can to keep our children safe. Prescription drugs aren't just abused by young people today either. Many young and older adults misuse and abuse them also. This was the 4th national prescription drug take back event that took place this year and it was extremely successful. There were 276 tons of unneeded and expired medications collected this year throughout the United States. I realize there are other ways of getting prescription painkillers and other prescription drugs to abuse, but when they're in the home, it makes it that much easier.
Alcohol Use Among Minors
Unfortunately prescription drugs aren't the only substance that young people are getting a hold of to abuse, alcohol consumption among minors is also very common. Underage drinking doesn't just take place among high school kids, some kids start experimenting with alcohol in middle school and some even before that.
How Easy Can Minors Attain Alcohol?
Young people don't have a problem getting alcohol today either, most people have alcoholic beverages in their homes and not everyone carefully monitors their supply. Some young people have friends or siblings that are of legal drinking age to buy their alcohol for them. That's not the only way a minor can get their hands on alcohol, it's not all that difficult to purchase liquor online even if you're underage. Parents and caregivers need to be aware of the fact that alcohol isn't impossible to purchase over the internet and that's how some teenagers are able to obtain liquor.
Some parents today think its ok to let their underage kids drink at home as long as they supervise them. Parents and caregivers who let their children consume alcoholic beverages when they're not of legal age in the privacy of their own home is a very controversial subject though.
Underage Drinking Facts
- Young people who are under the legal age to consume alcohol may not drink as often as adults do, but they usually drink more at a time when they do.
- Young people aged 12 to 20 that consume alcohol often binge drink, even though they drink less than adults do, they often do drink more and consume 90% of their alcohol binge drinking.
- Around five thousand deaths a year are associated with underage drinking, people under the age of 21 lose their life in alcohol related car accidents, homicides, suicides, alcohol poisoning, and other injuries.
- The younger a person starts drinking alcohol the more likely they will have an alcohol problem when they're an adult. This is really worrisome to me because many 12 year olds and young teens start experimenting with alcohol when they're with their friends.
- The development of the brain continues to develop until we're into our 20's. Drinking alcohol before the brain is fully developed can "contribute to a range of problems".
- According to research if a parent binge drinks their child is much more likely to binge drink themselves.
Signs Associated with Underage Drinking
Some of the signs listed below are normally associated with getting older and growing up when we're young but they also can be warning signs related to alcohol use.
- Finding alcohol in their room, backpack, or among their personal things
- Their breath smells like alcohol
- Their speech is slurred
- Having trouble with remembering things
- Having trouble concentrating
- Having problems with coordination
- Mood changes (including irritableness and anger)
- Behavioral and academic problems in school
- Changes in friends
- Level of energy is low
- Become less interested in activities they use to care about
- Not caring as much about their appearance
The worst thing we can do as parents and caregivers is deny to ourselves that our child would never experiment with alcohol or drugs under any circumstances. Young people from all walks of life are curious and no matter how much we talk with our children, sometimes they make poor choices when they're with their friends. They can't comprehend and fully understand what addiction is and just how easy it can be to become dependent on drugs or alcohol. And like many adults when it comes to alcohol, they think they have their drinking under control, they're not too intoxicated to drive, and they can stop whenever they want to.
We also need to remember that we are our children's best role models, setting good examples is our responsibility and part of good parenting. It's really not fair to expect more out of our children than we do ourselves.