It’s almost time for Holiday Cheer…
While I don’t want to be a downer on this season of celebration, I do think its important to remind everyone that the holidays can be a time of increased alcohol or drug abuse for both adults and teens.
The holidays are often stressful for families. Unfortunately, we are a culture that heavily leans on alcohol to deal with these seasonal stressors and our teens are watching what we do.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), underage drinkers are responsible for between 10 and 20 percent of all alcohol consumed during the holidays. This year, 1,200 people will lose their lives during the holiday season as a result of alcohol-related traffic accidents.
To make sure an accident does not happen in your family, consider the following things:
1. Your teen is watching how you drink. Please be mindful that your ability to drink responsibly and not drive once you have had a drink will set the best example. This message of responsibility will be stronger than anything you tell them to do. Even better? Share the details of your plan to drink responsibly with them.
2. The holidays can be filled with stress and painful family dynamics. Please take some time to consider what the holidays will be like for your teen. Is your teen from a split home? Will they visit a parent they only see once in a while? Provide them with a plan to help them manage the stress of difficult family visits.
3. Revisit your expectations for them not to drink with a conversation, and keep track of the liquor in the house. For teens, the holidays represent vacation time and lots of parties where they might drink together with friends in order to blow off stress or celebrate.
4. Avoid allowing any family members to drive during early and late evening hours on holidays, and don’t let someone you know drive away from your party if they are drunk. Your teen is learning how to set social limits from you.
The good news is that there has been a steady decline in the rate of alcohol-related deaths on the nation’s highways during the holidays (down from 2,6000 deaths in the 80s to 1,200 in recent years).
Please do your part to keep that number going down!