Kaiser Permanente Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Offers Tips for Parents of Teens
Los Angeles, CA, April 18, 2014 — For Alcohol Awareness Month, Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center's Department of Addiction Medicine is encouraging parents of teens to discuss the negative effects of alcohol with their children. The message coincides with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) theme "Help for Today. Hope for Tomorrow".
"The literature supports not only early intervention with teens, but also parental education to mitigate teen substance use and abuse," said Stephanie Shaner, MD, Chief of Addiction Medicine at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center.
According to the NCADD, alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States. Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in this country. Approximately 5,000 people under the age of 21 die annually due to intoxication.
"Open and honest dialogue by parents about the negative effects of alcohol, as well as about their expectations regarding underage drinking, has been found to significantly decrease teenage alcohol consumption," said Robert Morrison, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. "Research shows that teens who try alcohol before age 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol dependent when they are older. This is why prevention is so important to reduce alcohol-related problems and alcoholism."
What can you do to help your child avoid using alcohol to cope? Morrison provides the following recommendations:
- Education. Learn how to communicate with your kids. In my experience with families, not knowing how to communicate effectively with each other has been a huge obstacle in addressing underlying issues associated with alcohol/substance abuse. A lot of times we think we know "what" needs to be said or done, but not "how" to do it (communicate-talk). Please take the time to learn how to communicate effectively with the ones you love.
- Start talking to your child about alcohol early. Research has shown that kids who have conversations with their parents and learn about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50% less likely to use alcohol and drugs than those who don't have such conversations. Parents should explain the risks, which are that young people who drink are more likely to be sexually active and have unsafe sex, are more likely to be involved in a fight, commit violent crimes, fail at school, use other drugs, and experience verbal, physical, or sexual violence.
- Enroll your children in extra-curricular activities. Alcohol, and other drug use, has been found to occur most often between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m., immediately after school and prior to parents' arrival at home from work. Teen participation in extracurricular activities is an important privative measure.
- Be familiar with whom your child is spending time and encourage your child's friends to come to your home.
- Be a positive role model. Set the example for your teens. Be honest about your drinking habits. If you have a drinking problem, get help.
- Know what to look for. Familiarize yourself with signs of alcohol intoxication among your teens such as the smell of alcohol on their breath or skin, glazed or bloodshot eyes, unusually passive or argumentative behavior, and/or deterioration in the person's appearance or hygiene.
Counseling for teens and parents are a covered benefit for all Kaiser Permanente members. The Department of Addiction Medicine at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center has walk in hours for members from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The department offers an adult chemical dependency program, a co-dependency program and an adolescent program, all of which includes counseling, classes, support groups and more. For more information call (323) 783-8206.