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As parents, you’d probably like to see your son or daughter abstain from alcohol at least until reaching the legal drinking age of 21. Well, no mater how effective your parenting skills and no matter how great your kids – the statistics say that most teens will have a drink or two before they’re legally supposed to.

However, parents who delay their children from experimenting with alcohol for as long as they can do their children a great service and protect them from a host of additional risks during an already risky developmental stage.

The Increased Risks for Teens that Drink

According to the Community Drug and Alcohol Council (CDAC) some increased risks for teens that use alcohol include:

  • An increased risk of alcohol dependence later in life - Teen who start drinking in their early teen years are 4 times more likely to develop an alcohol dependence problem in adulthood than those who wait until the legal minimum age to start drinking
  • An increased risk of contracting an STD
  • An increased risk for an unplanned pregnancy
  • An increased risk to become sexually active at a young age
  • An increased risk to be the victim or perpetrator of a violent act
  • An increased risk to use illegal drugs and to develop a substance abuse problem
  • An increased risk to be involved in a motor vehicle accident
  • An increased risk to attempt suicide
  • An increased risk of serious school problems

As parents, your prevention efforts matter, and although it may seem that your words fall on deaf ears, you remain a huge influence in your children’s lives throughout the adolescent years. Talk to your children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and make sure your children know your expectations about alcohol abstinence. Be involved in the lives of your teen children and strive to maintain a line of dialogue. Use authoritative parenting styles, involving your children in the decision making process and be sure to set limits – and stick to them!

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Page last updated Jan 03, 2011

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