In 2014 an estimated 55,000 adolescents received treatment for an alcohol problem. According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, minors use alcohol more frequently than all other illicit drugs combined. In an effort to combat underage alcohol abuse, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence dedicated this year’s Alcohol Awareness Month to teen alcohol use. 

This year’s theme aims to help parents understand the important role they can play in preventing teen alcohol use. Parents influence when their children begin drinking, and more importantly how they drink. So what can parents do to minimize the likelihood that their child will drink? Here’s what the NCADD suggests:

  • Start early and talk often. Adolescents who are familiar with their parent’s thoughts on underage drinking are likely to fall in line with their expectations.
  • Teach your child that drinking can be risky and how to intervene if they see that their classmates are in trouble.
  • Familiarize yourself with your State’s laws on providing alcohol to your own children and NEVER provide alcohol to another person’s child.
  • If you drink, be sure to set a healthy example of adult alcohol use. 
  • Never brag about your use of alcohol/drugs during your college years.
  • Adolescents believe that parents should have a say about whether or not they should drink, so be sure to be consistent when enforcing rules about drinking.
  • If your child is 21, teach them healthy drinking habits. Explain how to use alcohol in moderation and appropriately.
  • When your child goes to college set clear expectations about academic performance, and be sure to stay as interested and involved in their lives as you were when they were in high school.

Parents play a big role in the way their children use alcohol, but with open and respectful communication and expectations they can help to ensure their children will be responsible drinkers.