As a parent or caregiver you play a vital role in helping your child make the right decisions about alcohol consumption. Studies show that parents have a major impact on their children’s drinking decisions, especially during the preteen and early teenage years. Also children whose parents are involved in their lives- hold regular conversations, attend after-school events, and listen to their problems- are less likely to drink and use other drugs.
Learn how to keep your teen safe
Celebrate Safe Newsletter- a newsletter for parents from the Mendez Foundation
Alcohol is dangerous and illegal for any person under the age 21
Malt beverages and energy drinks with alcohol are marketed to teens and young adults. Learn more about these drinks so you will recognize them. If your child has a collection of empty beer bottles or hard liquor bottles, he or she may be drinking illegally! Beer caps, alcohol product posters, alcohol brand tee shirts and devices like beer bongs in a child's room are clues that a child may be drinking.
Alcohol is the #1 drug abused by children and adolescents and kills more young people than all other drugs combined. Underage drinking can lead to brain damage and other serious consequences. In Florida, it is illegal for any adult, including parents, to provide alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. Providing alcohol to an underage person is a 2nd degree misdemeanor punishable with up to a $500 fine, 60 days in jail and suspension of the adult's drivers license.
If you think your child may be drinking or using drugs, confront the child and ask questions. Some children will lie and say they don't drink at all or tried it once, but they really are drinking regularly. Children who drink alcohol are more likely to use illegal drugs than children who don't drink. Be aware of your child's friends, look for signs of intoxication when they come home from a night out, and inspect their room. Make sure you inform your child that underage drinking is not permitted, and set a consequence. If your child comes home smelling like alcohol and has other signs of drinking, enforce the consequences. If the child continues drinking, get help. In Hillsborough County, call 211 or on-line www.211atyourfingertips.org
Alcohol and marijuana continue to be the top two drugs of choice for adolescents but prescription drugs are becoming more prevalent. Vicodin, a narcotic pain killer ,and Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, are popular among teens. Both are highly addictive and can be fatal if consumed in large quantities or mixed with alcohol. Inhalants (air fresheners, nitrous oxide, Freon, paint) and over the counter medications, especially cough remedies containing dextromorphan, are also frequently abused substances.
Have you ever found a strange substance or pills in your child's room and wondered if it could be drugs? The DEA has a photo library that features photos of marijuana, depressants, pain-killers, cocaine, LSD, Ecstasy and other drugs as well as drug paraphernalia such as bongs and pipes.
Read more about talking to your children about alcohol usage Make a Difference- Talk to your child about alcohol (PDF)
Learn more about how harmful marijuana is for teens.
Alcohol 101 - Parenting to Prevent Underage Drinking (PowerPoint slide show)
Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free website
Make a Difference- Talk to your Child about Alcohol pamphlet
Parents- The Anti Drug website
Tips for Parents on Keeping Children Drug Free pamphlet
Family Guide: Keeping Youth Mentally Healthy and Drug Free website
STOP Underage Drinking portal of government resources website
College Drinking- Changing the Culture website