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First-Time Teen Alcohol Use Peaks in Summer
Adolescents are more likely to try alcohol, tobacco and other drugs for the first time during the summer months. In Linn County, reports from local teens suggest that underage drinking increases during school breaks such as winter break, spring break and summer vacation. Although first use can occur at any time, results from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health confirm what local teens report. Survey findings show that, among adolescents younger than 18, first-time use of many substances peaked during the summer months of June and July.
During summer months, when many parents are at work, it can be challenging to keep kids busy and active. It is not uncommon for teens on break to have fewer responsibilities and less adult supervision. Read full article Linn Facts: First-Time Teen Alcohol Use Peaks in Summer
Summer Tips for Parents
Set Summertime Rules – Develop ground rules and discuss ahead of time your expectations for summer. Some of these ground rules will need to be created by you, but the more you can discuss these or compromise and get buy-in from your teen the better. For example, what are they to be doing during the day?
- Are they allowed to have friends over when you’re not home?
- Are they allowed on the internet during the day? For how much time? How is this monitored?
- What information do they need to provide you about their plans (Who, What, When, Where)
- How often should they check in (via text, for example) as to where they are or if they change plans/locations (which teens do quite constantly)?
- Do they have an extended curfew now that schools out?
- Make clear your expectations surrounding underage drinking and other risky behaviors.
Expect Changes in Schedule – Your teens schedule may change during the summer. For example, sleeping in is a pleasure of adolescence so it’s nice to indulge a bit. However, if your teen’s sleep schedule or other free time becomes a big problem in your household, help them find an activity. For example, a summer job with morning hours, tutoring sessions to attend, sports lessons or camp, a class or the need to complete chores at home in the morning in order to be allowed to keep their afternoon plans with friends.
Monitor – Be physically present when you can, and when you can’t, try asking a neighbor to randomly check-in. Periodically call and text your teen to check in, and don’t be afraid to check up on your child by calling another parent.
Team Up – Get to know the parents of your teen’s friends. Speak with them to ensure you have a unified and consistent “no alcohol or drug use” stance.
Volunteering for Teens – Summer is a great time for teens to work or volunteer, to build self-confidence and gain work experience. Help your teen look for something that might be a natural fit with their interests. If they like animals consider volunteering at a local shelter.
Communicate – Have on-going conversations with your teen about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Be your child’s trusted resource.
(Adapted from Summer Tips for Parents of Teens by Sue Goetz, LCSW)
Read more tips for parents from Oregon mORe Engage Your Teen: Monitor Activities
Count it, or Lock it up:
- If you have alcohol in your home, keep track of it. Know how much you have purchased.
- If possible, keep alcohol locked in a closet, cabinet, or safe, or other inaccessible location.
- Remove alcohol during times that your kids will be home alone.
- Don’t ask your kids to get you a beer from the fridge.
- Consider having an alcohol-free home during your kids pre-teen and teen years.
Talk about Alcohol:
- Tell your kids your rules and beliefs about underage drinking.
- Talk to older children about not supplying alcohol to their siblings or friends.
- Talk to other parents and let them know you do not let your children drink alcohol.
Monitor your kids:
- Don’t leave teens at home alone when you go out of town.
- Find out if there will be parental supervision at the parties your child attends.
- Don’t allow your child to attend parties where there will be alcohol.
Host Safe Social Events
- Don’t host adult parties where only alcoholic beverages are served or where drinking is the central focus of the gathering.
- Don’t serve or bring alcohol to kids’ celebrations (sporting events, birthdays, graduations, etc).
- Never serve alcohol to anyone under age 21, and don’t allow children to serve alcohol to others.
- If serving alcohol to adults, keep alcoholic drinks separate in a controlled area.
- Always know what kids are drinking.
- After a party, clean up right away — prevent kids from sipping leftovers.