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How to keep teens from drinking during the holidays

Resources and tips can keep teenagers safe and sober

With school out for holiday break, some teens may be tempted to turn to parties and alcohol for entertainment. As the demands and distractions of the holiday season approach, it is important for parents to be aware of the dangers of underage drinking.

Underage drinking exacts both tragic consequences that make headlines and destructive outcomes that don’t. Many teens don’t drink alcohol; however, Shasta County teens say that for those who do, the primary setting is at home or a friend’s home.

Alarmingly, among cities in California with a population between 50,000 and l00,000, Redding ranked first in 2007 in injury and fatal crashes involving drivers younger than 2l who had been drinking.

underage drinking problem

Lets keep our teens from underage drinking.

Teen drinking can damage areas of the developing brain that shape memory, learning, impulse control, reasoning and decision-making. Twenty percent of the alcohol consumed in the United States today is consumed by underage drinkers.

More than 90 percent of that alcohol is consumed in “binge drinking” – five or more drinks in a few hours. This type of drinking also increases risk of injury and death, sexual assault and other violence, as well as alcohol dependence. It increases the risk of high blood pressure, some mental illnesses and liver disease.

Alcohol plays a key role in accidents (including vehicle crashes, drownings and falls) as well as homicides and suicides, which are the leading causes of death among youth.

With so many serious consequences, parents may want to consider taking steps to protect their children during unsupervised time.

First and most importantly, talk to your teen about alcohol. Do not assume they know how destructive it is or what your expectations are.

Know what alcohol you have in your home, and keep it locked.

Do not leave teens home alone overnight. Have your child stay with a family member or family friend if you need to be away.

When it’s an option, have family, friends or neighbors check in on your teens during the day if you are working.

When your teenager is invited to a friend’s home, check with the parents to ensure they have rules about not drinking.

And finally, have your teen call you from a landline instead of a cell phone when he or she are at someone else’s home.

Despite what parents might think, teens do value their advice and involvement.

Michelle Gazzigli is a member of the Shasta County Alcohol and Drug Advisory Board.

Facts about teen drinking

The 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey5 found that among high school students, during the past 30 days:

45 percent drank some amount of alcohol.

26 percent binge drank.

11 percent drove after drinking alcohol.

29 percent rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Consequences of underage drinking

Youths who drink alcohol are more likely to experience the following:

School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades.

Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.

Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.

Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.

Unwanted, unplanned and unprotected sexual activity.

Disruption of normal growth and sexual development.

Physical and sexual assault.

Higher risk for suicide and homicide.

Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls and drowning.

Memory problems.

Abuse of other drugs.

Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.

Death from alcohol poisoning.

In general, the risk of youths experiencing these problems is greater for those who binge drink than for those who do not binge drink.

Youths who start drinking before age 15 years are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

source: Redding Record Searchlight

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