In 2015, 1 in 5 high school-aged student in the Roanoke Valley reported binge drinking (5 or more drinks of alcohol in a row) in the 30 days.
Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States.* More than half of all adults have a family history of alcoholism or problem drinking, which makes it more likely that their children will have problems with drinking.*
Alcoholism is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the nation. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to numerous health problems, including but not limited to:
Dementia, Stroke, Nerve Pain, Cardiovascular problems (including heart attacks and high
blood pressure), Mental Health problems (such as depression, anxiety, and suicide), Social
problems (such as unemployment, lost productivity, family problems, and violence),
Unintentional injuries (such as car crashes, falls, drowning, burns, and firearm injuries),
Increased risk for many kinds of cancers (including liver, mouth, and throat cancers), Liver
disease, and Alcohol abuse or Alcoholism.
Alcoholism develops not based on how much someone drinks or how long someone has been drinking, but is based on developing an uncontrollable need for alcohol. Alcoholics are frequently in the grip of a powerful craving for alcohol, a need that can feel as strong as the need for food or water.
Some alcoholics can recover on their own, but the majority of alcoholics need outside assistance to recover. Click HERE for Roanoke City resources for adults and youth who have problems with drinking.
Half of the battle for parents is being informed about the dangers of alcohol abuse, the other half is how to use this knowledge in a helpful way with their child. Below are what parents can do to help keep their children safe when it comes to alcohol:
Know where your teen will be throughout an evening: ask them to map out their transportation plans in advance,
Have regular and open communication with your teens about drugs and alcohol (they will listen! Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reports that teens who receive a message from their parents that underage drinking is completely unacceptable are more than 80% less likely to drink than teens who receive other messages).
Remind kids that underage drinking is illegal and you expect them to be law abiding,
Tell them you're concerned for their safety,
Talk with them about the consequences of drinking--diminished judgement, becoming more uninhibited, nausea, vomiting, hangovers, irritability, and sleep disturbances, not to mention the legal consequences,
Inform them about drinking too much too rapidly can cause alcohol poisoning which includes loss of consciousness and even death--share your concerns about what might happen to them,
Discuss the dangers or driving drunk--many parents have a bargain with their kids that they can call home at any time of day or night to be picked up with no questions asked. If your family doesn't have a car, then you can send a cab, or come and get them on public transportation.
Point out that drinking allows you to take risks you might not usually take, or to put yourself in dangerous situations, Talk with your kids frankly about date rape, which is often alcohol-related. Let them know that if someone is under the influence, they can not give consent.
Brainstorm with your kid on ways to handle being around peers who are drinking. Encourage them not to give in to peer pressure. Kids can say up-front, "I don't like the way alcohol affects me.",
Do no supply drugs or alcohol to your teens,
Stay up until your teens are home,
Communicate with other parents about their expectations of their children,
Take a look at your own drinking patterns--kids from homes where a lot of alcohol is consumed are more likely to drink. Be sure you are setting a good example for them,
Get involved with your community: Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition (RAYSAC) hosts great information, events, and resources! Visit their website and sign up for their newsletters HERE!
Be actively involved in your child's life. Help protect your kid's bright future by providing a safe, alcohol and drug-free life for them.