Alcohol Abuse Prevention

There are a number of ways to help prevent teen alcohol abuse, prevention starts at home, there are also community and school alcohol abuse prevention programs. Keep reading for ways to make a solid teen alcohol abuse prevention program.

Alcohol Abuse Prevention - Conversation

Your teens should grow up knowing what you think of alcohol, the steps you take to promote appropriate use for yourself and others, and what your expectations are for their behavior, and your example should match what you say. For a start, if alcohol is used by anyone in your home or immediate family, this should be discussed. Speaking about, for example, who will be your designated driver or your choice to take on that role shows teens how seriously you take the matter of responsible behavior.

Conversations are also appropriate in preparation for specific occasions in which alcohol may be present, and particularly when there is the possibility that others may be using alcohol inappropriately. Events outside the home in which a teen may have access to or be offered alcohol (if he or she looks older) - for example, weddings and other family celebrations, or any gathering with a bar - offer an occasion for a discussion. Conversation could include these points:

  • Because I expect to be the driver when we return home at such-and-such an hour, I will limit myself to x drinks, and not drink any later than x o’clock.
  • There will be alcohol present, but you are underage, so even if you are offered alcohol, I expect you to refuse.
  • I look forward to the time when you can join in the toast with champagne, but for now, your favorite soft drink will be a good choice to allow you to participate in this gesture.

Speaking to your teen prior to college is also important, as this is a situation in which there is often a mix of adult and underage students and less supervision, and the temptation to use alcohol may be very strong for some students. Conversation could cover these points:

  • Clarify that some students will legally be able to drink.
  • Discuss the choice of a “substance-free” dormitory.
  • Point out examples of non-alcoholic activities that the teen did not have access to in high school that s/he may now get involved in.
  • Discuss the campus alcohol policies and “safe ride” services or other choices that students can call on rather than traveling with anyone who is intoxicated.

It is also important that your teens know, from you and perhaps from school programs as well, the effects and dangers of alcohol use, the reasons that it is illegal for them to use alcohol, and the possible costs of defying this rule.

Circumstances Outside the Home that Reduce the Likelihood of Substance Use

Certain activities and experiences have been found to be correlated with a lessened likelihood of substance abuse. The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) report from July, 2003 makes the point that students from 12-17 who had positive responses to school and their accomplishments there were less likely to be involved in substance abuse, including alcohol. Alcohol use for students who had been the recipients of alcohol abuse prevention materials or presentations at school was slightly less  than for those who hadn’t. In addition, the NHSDA report from February, 2002  found that use of alcohol was lower among student athletes who were aged 12 - 17 and engaged in team sports than in students who did not participate, as were rates of binging and heavy alcohol use that did not constitute binging.

Alcohol Abuse Prevention - Agreements and Contracts

Depending on your family relationships, you may wish to implement some sort of agreement or contract between you and your child concerning refraining from alcohol use. While some parents will prefer to do this informally, relying on the trust established between them and their teen, others will wish, for various reasons, to use a written document. Students may be familiar with the behavior contract from school activities (such as sports) and trips, or other organizations. Model documents are available, on the Internet. Areas to consider having an explicit agreement about include:

  • Avoidance of drugs and alcohol
  • Parent as designated driver: being able to ask a parent for a ride any time, day or night if there is no other safe travel available for whatever reason
  • Expected behavior in regard to teen driving for both driver and passengers
  • Prom night behavior

All parent contracts and agreements should explicitly state what’s expected and what the consequences will be if those expectations are not met. Some contracts will include expectations for the parent as well as for the child, for example, being available or providing a substitute if the teen may need a ride in order to be safe and the parent is not available.

Alcohol Abuse Prevention - Devices

Breathalyzers specially adapted for car installation are another way to protect lives and property. These devices are designed to prevent anyone who is intoxicated from driving the vehicle. The detection of any alcohol prevents the car from being started, and the device keeps a record of the tests. It is not fool-proof, but it is an added layer of protection.

Alcohol Abuse Prevention - Assistance

There are many places to get assistance in creating your family prevention program. Your community police department may have special officers assigned to address teen substance abuse. Your teen’s school may have instructors who specialize in this area. In addition, school guidance counselors, mental health agencies, and carefully chosen Internet sites can be helpful.


Related Article: Warning Signs of Alcohol Abuse >>