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Health & Parenting

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Teens Who Drink Too Much

WebMD Feature

May 15, 2000 -- Teenage drinking is on the rise, and a number of organizations nationwide have introduced programs to help parents and teens identify problem drinking before it does long-term damage. Jeffry Hon, speaking for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), a 66-year-old volunteer organization, says that starting early is key.

"Parents should start educating their children on alcohol use from the moment they are able to observe behavior. A toddler may not be articulate enough to ask questions, but when daddy comes home, goes straight to the fridge, and says, 'Don't bother me until I've had a beer,' that sends a message to a young child that may not be appropriate."

This list of tips for parents compiled by the nonprofit Oregon Partnership stresses the importance of good communication as the years go by. Here's a list of that organization's "Strategies to build a stronger relationship with your child":

  • Start talking with your child in grade school about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use.
  • Let teens know you disapprove of drug use and underage drinking and why.
  • Set rules and consequences for teenage drinking, tobacco, and drug use.
  • Do not serve alcohol to anyone underage.
  • Do not allow unchaperoned parties at your house.
  • Call host's parents to ensure that parties your children are attending are supervised and alcohol-free.
  • Get involved in parent support groups.
  • If you choose to drink, set a good example by limiting your own use of alcohol, and never use alcohol as a way of coping with problems.
  • If your teenager has a drinking or drug problem, seek professional help.

Jeanie Puleston Fleming written for The New York Times, Sunset, and WebMD.

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