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Talk About It: Alcohol, Adults, Holiday Parties and Teens

Filed in Parents by on December 22, 2014 • views: 260
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The holidays are a time of celebrating with family and friends and recognizing those important to us. But the preponderance of holiday parties –– some at which adults are drinking alcohol and it is often readily available to teens –– can create opportunities for teens to engage in risky behaviors and make potentially dangerous decisions.

The good news is that holiday parties are a great opportunity for parents to be role models, giving teens a first-hand look at what it means to be responsible about alcohol use.

Tips for Holiday Parties
As we enter this joyous season, Pelham PACT –– a community coalition encouraging youth to make healthy, safe and substance-free choices –– wants to share some strategies for how to handle a time when parties, teens, alcohol and adults often intermingle, maybe even under your own roof. (Thanks to the Huffington Post article “Holiday Parties and the Hypocrisy Dilemma” by Dr. Karen Soren for some of the information).

1. While it’s always important to drink responsibly, it’s especially important to do so when you are with your teens.
2. Remember that underage drinking is illegal even in your own home. Parents who host or have knowledge of minors consuming alcoholic beverages in their residence are liable under the social host law.
3. If you’re hosting a party, have a selection of non-alcoholic beverages on hand and offer them to adults, as well as teens. It’s one way of taking the focus off of drinking and putting it toward things like sharing stories and spending time with old friends.
4. If you’re the host, set an example about drinking and driving by arranging for rides home for all party goers.
5. If you’re drinking alcohol at a party at someone else’s house, do what you’d ask your teens to do if they shouldn’t be driving: appoint a designated driver, take a cab, or, if feasible, stroll home. (Remember, it’s a felony to drive while intoxicated with a child 15 years of age or younger in the car.)

Tips for Teens
Unlike when they were younger, teens – of course – won’t spend every minute of the holiday break with you. Therefore, here are some reminders to tell your teens when they are out with friends over the holidays:

1. Let them know that drinking before the age of 21 is against the law and is not acceptable.
2. Know your teenagers’ friends, what they’re up to and where they are. Also know if parents will be present and if they tolerate underage drinking in their home.
3. Plan for safe transportation. Emphasize that safety is a priority and make a plan with your teen for how they will get home, including offering to pick them up and give their friends a ride home. Reinforce safety – not punishment.

Did You Know?
Emergency room visits as a result of underage drinking increase over 250% on New Year’s Day as compared to other days of the year. (Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2010).

Every day in the United States, more than 4,750 kids under the age of 16 have their first full drink of alcohol. (Source: SAMHSA)

In 2013, 52.2 percent of current underage drinkers reported that their last use of alcohol occurred in someone else’s home, and 34.2 percent reported that it had occurred in their own home. (Source: SAMHSA, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2013)

Among underage drinkers (ages 12-20), 28.7% paid for the alcohol the last time they drank; among those who did not pay for alcohol, 24.5% received it from a parent, guardian, or other adult family member. (Source: SAMHSA, NSDUH, 2013)

Make this holiday season a safe time for you, your family and the Pelham community, by making sure to Talk About It: Holiday Parties and Alcohol.

Parental disapproval is the number one reason teens choose not to drink.

To learn more about PACT’s Talk About It campaign and to access additional resources, please visit pelhampact.org and “Like” PACT on Facebook.

Happy Holidays from PACT!

(This article originally appeared in The Pelham Weekly on December 19, 2014.)

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