April is alcohol awareness month, and this year's theme is "Talk Early, Talk Often: Parents Can Make a Difference in Teen Alcohol Use." The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has used April as its signature month to raise awareness about alcohol consumption, abuse and treatment options. Along with raising awareness, educators use this time to dispel myths and set records straight on alcoholism and how to properly approach those who might be suffering from the addiction. Further, April 2 – 4 is "Alcohol Free Weekend." The NCADD encourages people to abstain from alcohol usage during this time.
This year's theme revolves around teen alcohol abuse and how it's vital that's adults, whether they be parents, friends or teachers, reach out to teens about over using alcohol and, really, not using it until they're legal. Here are two ways to approach teens about the often tricky, uncomfortable subject:
1. Reach out early
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4,300 underage drinkers die each year due to excessive drinking. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services pointed out in their report, "Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings," that out that just over 50 percent of American youth age 12 or older drink alcohol. There was little change year-over-year.
If adults suspect a teenager they know might be turning to the bottle, they must reach out to the teen immediately. It's crucial not to wait until his or her situation has turned dire and the teen is fully addicted. Doing so can increase the chance of fatal accidents and chronic health defects. It can also inhibit his or her growth, socially, into adulthood because the young adult will rely more on the bottle to comfort them than friends and family.
"Don't hesitate to reach out to teens, and don't be skittish about approaching them often."
2. Reach out often
Don't hesitate to reach out to teens, and don't be skittish about approaching them often. Teens can be very busy, and extremely stubborn. Together, this can cause them to easily forget about you bringing up their alcohol consumption. Starting a conversation with a teenager about their bad habits can be intimidating and awkward. While it's different for every parent, friend or teacher, here are some general tips:
- First, talk with a professional. He or she can help guide you through the process and minimize intervention mistakes.
- Approach the teenager in a non-threatening environment.
- Talk to them when they aren't in a rush to leave for work or school.
- But don't make their busy lives an excuse not to talk with them.
- If they're non-responsive, consider having a formal intervention with a professional from a treatment center.
Fairwinds Treatment Center, a dual diagnosis treatment center located in Clearwater, Florida, has over 25 years of experience in diagnosing and treating alcohol-related problems. Under the leadership of Dr. M.K (Khal) El-Yousef, Fairwinds has grown into one of the country's leading centers in using dual diagnosis as a technique to treat individuals with addictive behaviors. For more information, please contact us today.