Hello from your resident Student Assistance Professional, Suzanne Monzel. Since April is Alcohol Awareness Month, it is my hope that providing information about key actions parents and caregivers can take to prevent underage alcohol abuse will support healthy conversations and strong communication about the risks of alcohol use.
The following information is taken from the “Family Resource Guide” developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. SAMHSA talks about 6 key actions parents and caregivers can take to prevent childhood alcohol abuse.
· Establish and maintain good communication with your student.
· Get involved, and stay involved in your student’s life.
· Make clear rules and enforce them with consistency and appropriate consequences.
· Be positive role models.
· Teach your student to choose friends wisely.
· Monitor your student’s activities.
Some of the tips SAMHSA suggests to start a discussion with your student about alcohol include:
· Discuss family rules about alcohol (clear expectations to not use alcohol, consequences if they do).
· Discuss the laws about underage drinking (make sure it is clear that drinking alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal).
· Teach your student about the dangers of underage drinking.
· Monitor alcohol in your home (make sure alcohol is not available at parties given by your student).
· Think carefully about what to tell your student.
· If you drink yourself, be sure to drink responsibly around your student (don’t drink and drive, consider no alcohol parties that include your student).
· Help your student find ways to have fun that don’t involve alcohol.
· Help your student get professional help (if you think they may be using alcohol).
SAHMSA has a guide with activities available to help you talk about alcohol with your student on the Too Smart to Start website.
Please remember that “students are less likely to drink and have fewer alcohol-related problems when their parents/caregivers set clear expectations about alcohol use” (Nash, McQueen, and Bray, 2005).