Teenage Alcohol and Drug Use

Posted on February 28, 2011

Question:  Could parents inadvertently increase the likelihood that their teenager will use alcohol or drugs? 

Have you ever heard parents say:

“I’m not naive; I know most kids drink.”

“All kids are going to experiment with alcohol”

“Pretty much everyone drinks in high school.”

“I tell my child, if he’s going to drink, I want him to do it at home.”

“Alcohol and drug use is an epidemic among teenagers.”

Prevention studies consistently show that teenagers overestimate alcohol and drug use, and underestimate abstinence, as reported to their friends and older teens. Many parents share these misperceptions, believing that “experimentation” and/or use are inevitable rites of passage for teenagers. In fact, the large majority of middle and high school students are not using alcohol or drugs.

In conveying, directly or indirectly, their own incorrect beliefs, parents unintentionally reinforce their children’s misperceptions, which can ultimately increase teenage alcohol and drug use. Parents play a significant role in their children’s lives and in preventing their use and abuse of substances, especially as children grow into adolescence and face new risks, pressures and challenges. By knowing what is really going on in your teenager’s world, most teenage peers don’t:

  • use alcohol or drugs
  • smoke marijuana
  • have parents who allow them to drink
  • think it’s cool to get drunk

Parents can speak to their children about these issues from a position of confidence and strength, rather than fear and speculation.  Prevention is strengthened when parents help their teenager develop healthy and accurate beliefs about their teenage peers’ behaviors.

Adapted from FCD Educational Services

Written By:  Rebecca Heger, MA, LMHC, LCAC, MAC

Rebecca Heger is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Therapist and Licensed Clinical Addiction Counselor practicing in Indianapolis, IN.  She has over 30 years of experience working with adolescents through young adults and their parents.  Rebecca is credentialed to conduct drug assessments for schools or juvenile court.

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NzE6Imh0dHA6Ly9ncm9mZmFuZGFzc29jaWF0ZXMuY29tL3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvMy1ncm9mZl9oZWFkZXIucG5nIjt9PC9saT48L3VsPg==