Annie Colonna, the Director of Prevention Services at the Warwick Valley Community Center, wants to remind people that April is still Alcohol Awareness Month. While everyone is safely staying home and doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19, underage drinking can still happen. Here are some tips from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) about how to talk to young people about drinking.
Research shows that parents are the number one reason that young people decide not to drink. Parents should start to talk to their children about alcohol as early as nine years old. SAMHSA recommends these five conversation goals to keep in mind:
- Parents should show they disapprove of underage drinking. More than 80 percent of young people from ages 10 to 18 say their parents are the leading influence on their decision to drink or not drink. They listen so it is important that parents send a clear and strong message.
- Parents should show that they care about their child’s happiness and well-being. Young people are more likely to listen when they know parents are on their side. Parents should reinforce that they don’t want their child to drink. It is not just because they say so but because they want their child to be happy and safe.
- Parents should always be a good source of information about alcohol. To make an informed decision, young people need reliable information about the dangers of alcohol consumption. Don’t let young people learn about alcohol from friends, the Internet or the media.
- Parents should show their children that they are paying attention and will notice if a child drinks. They are more likely to drink if they think no one will notice. While we are staying home, make sure alcohol is safely locked away and out of the reach of youth.
- Parents should build their child’s skills and strategies for avoiding underage drinking. Take advantage of extra family time to talk to your child. To prepare children to resist peer pressure, teach them skills and practice with them.
The Warwick Valley Prevention Coalition is a group of concerned parents, youth and community partners working to reduce alcohol and marijuana abuse among youth and to prevention initiation into all drug use by encouraging wise and healthy choices by all community members. They meet the fourth Thursday of every month at 6:30 pm, currently online. For more information on speaking to your child, or information on how to join the Coalition’s meetings, contact Ryan Caldwell, Coalition Coordinator, at email@example.com.