Talking with Teens and Young Adults about Alcohol

Friendly friends posing outdoors in the evening

Talking with Teens and Young Adults about Alcohol

April is known for bright colors, springtime weather and new life. It also marks Alcohol Awareness Month and an opportunity to breathe some of that new life into conversations with teens about alcohol ahead of all the fun festivities that come with the season. This designation serves as a critical reminder for parents and educators about the importance of engaging in meaningful conversations with teens about alcohol. Discussing the dangers and consequences of underage drinking is vital, but how we approach these conversations can significantly influence their effectiveness.

The Right Approach to Discussing Alcohol

Talking to teens about alcohol can be daunting. Here are three strategies to effectively communicate the risks and responsibilities associated with drinking:

  • Start Early and Talk Often: Initiating conversations about alcohol early and maintaining this dialogue can make the topic less taboo. Regular discussions can also provide a comfortable space for teens to ask questions and express their thoughts or concerns.
  • Be Honest and Fact-Based: Use real statistics and facts to discuss the consequences of alcohol use. Highlight the effects on physical health, mental well-being and even legal issues related to underage drinking.
  • Encourage Healthy Alternatives: Find alcohol-free activities. Encourage participation in sports arts and clubs that offer healthy outlets for stress and peer interaction. 
  • Model a Healthy Relationship with Alcohol: Demonstrate responsible drinking behaviors if you consume alcohol. Discuss the importance of moderation, not driving under the influence and respecting others’ decisions not to drink.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to sensitive topics like alcohol, certain approaches can backfire. Here are three things to avoid during your discussions:

  • Avoid Lectures: Instead of delivering long lectures, foster an open dialogue where your teen feels heard. This encourages them to share their thoughts and experiences related to alcohol.
  • Don’t Use Scare Tactics: While it’s important to discuss the serious consequences of drinking, relying solely on scare tactics can often lead to dismissal from teens. Balance the negatives with positive behavior reinforcement.
  • Don’t Make Assumptions: Every teen is different. Ensure that your approach is tailored to their level of maturity and understanding. Listen actively to their responses and adapt the conversation accordingly.

By approaching these conversations with understanding honesty and supportive strategies, you can have a more positive impact on your teen’s perceptions and choices about alcohol now and in the future.

Contact the NCWR Addiction Recovery Clinic at OSU at 918-561-1890 to schedule an appointment. In case of a medical emergency, please call 911. For immediate and confidential emotional support, please call 988 to reach the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Additional Information and Resources 

Related Topics

Related Articles