Changing Attitudes: It’s Not a ‘Rite of Passage’

Parents and guardians are urged to take preventative action to protect kids from the many consequences that stem from underage alcohol use.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month and the Tuscarawas County Anti-Drug Coalition (ADC), and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc. (NCADD) are encouraging parents and guardians to educate their children on the dangers of alcohol use.

Officials are working to break the stigma that underage drinking is a ‘rite of passage. Research shows that kids who learn about the dangers of underage drinking from their parents are 50 percent less likely to experiment than kids who don’t.

Despite the legal drinking age of 21, people age 12 to 20 years drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the U.S., more than 90 percent of which is in the form of binge drinking.

According to statistics released by the ADC, only 75% of Tuscarawas County Youth (grades 6-12), perceive that their parents would feel it “very wrong” for them to have 1 or 2 drinks of an alcoholic beverage nearly every day. Additionally, 33% of youth reported their parents being the ones to give them alcohol. “Parents often forgive underage drinking as a ‘rite of passage,’” said Jodi Salvo, Coordinator of the ADC. “But, it’s important they take an active role in learning about the dangers of alcohol and drugs and help their kids do the same.”

Experts note several reasons that may lead a young person to drink alcohol:

  • Family problems
  • Issues with school and grades
  • Loneliness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Mental health factors
  • Societal Pressures
  • To fit in

“Alcohol and drug use is a very risky business for young people, and parents can make a difference,” added NCADD President Andrew Pucher.

So, what can you do as a parent or guardian to prevent your child from participating in this dangerous activity?

  • Listen before you talk: For kids, knowing that someone is really listening is most important.
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Be involved
  • Be honest and open
  • Be aware of teachable moments when issues come up in the media and among their friends
  • Be positive: Talking about these issues can build bridges rather than walls

Officials add that it is also critical that adults always remember that addiction is a chronic, progressive disease that can be linked to family history and genetics. So, if there is a family history of problems be ‘matter of fact about it,’ as one would be with any other chronic disease.

Throughout the month the Tuscarawas County Andi-Drug Coalition will hold a variety of informational and educational events to raise public awareness about underage drinking and to encourage parents to speak to their kids early and often about alcohol and other drugs.

Michaela Madison Reporting

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