teen drinking

The Single Most Important Preventive Measure

Published on: September 16, 2021   |   Last updated on:

Why It’s So Important To Avoid Giving Teens Alcohol and Drugs.

This sounds like a no-brainer: “Don’t give kids drugs or alcohol.”

But then you remember the parents (and it may have been your own parents, or your philosophy) that intentionally expose their own kids to drinking alcohol inside their homes.

Their theory, typically, sounds something like this: “We want to teach them how to drink responsibly because we know they’re going to drink a lot, especially when they go off on their own. So we’re going to teach them how to drink responsibly.” 

While that sounds like cogent logic, unfortunately, it is completely debunked by science.

Kids who are initiated early to drinking are drastically more prone to experiencing a lifelong struggle with addiction and substance abuse problems. It’s a fact proven in multiple ways by multiple studies.

Throughout the many years and research studies on substance abuse prevention, one initiative has emerged over and over again as the single most important preventive measure: delay a kid’s first drink. 

As researchers reported in 2019, “Using drugs and alcohol at an early age has been associated with multiple problems later in life such as negative health, social, and behavioral outcomes…early substance initiation has been identified as a [Risk Factor] for injection drug use, binge drinking, hazardous levels of alcohol consumption and drug use.”

We all know we can’t control our teenagers, even in the best circumstances. They’re going to do what they’re going to do, even if we have every guardrail we can imagine set up to protect them.

But, armed with this important insight, we can be extra intentional about their teen years.

Here is what you can do specifically:

  • Share this information with the kids in your life
  • Explain why you give them curfews or check in on their location
  • Explain why you want to get to know their friends and their parents
  • Be willing to have an awkward conversation with parents of your kid’s friends — let them know where you stand about underage drinking and the importance of delaying drinking
  • Be willing to restrict your kid from spending time at someone else’s home where underage drinking is allowed or encouraged

Look, parenting and education is about the long haul. What we do with and for our kids as they grow up will bear fruit in their lives for decades to come.

We want them to have every opportunity to avoid experiences that can have devastating consequences for their future wellbeing.

If you found this article helpful, share it with other parents or educators.

Conversations to have with your kids


Stay Connected