sun-382744_1280School is finally out of session which means summer vacation is just around the corner. For most teenagers, summer is a time for relaxation, spending time with friends, and getting a break from the textbooks and homework.  With teens having fewer responsibilities and more freedom, parents tend be more lenient about enforcing rules and setting curfews. These factors could lead teenagers to experimentation and engagement of illegal and dangerous activities such as drinking.

According to several sources, the summer months of June, July, and August are most prevalent for underage drinking in the summer. Research in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health Report notes that the first-time-use of most alcohol peaks during the summer months of June and July. One article by Karen Pasternack talked a survey that was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Caron in June 2013. The survey had 848 U.S. adults aged 18-40, and among their responses, the survey revealed that 78% tried alcohol for the first time when they were underage. Of those, 36% had their first experience with alcohol before age 16, including 10% before age 12. Only 40% indicate their parents had a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking (Pasternack).  According to an infographic presented by the Bradford Health Services, 940,400 teens will have their first drink of alcohol by the end of summer.

This is very problematic as drinking can be a very dangerous activity. Major indicators that may suggest a teenager is drinking may include behavioral problems such as fighting, and emotional issues such as depression. Below are a list of signs, determined by a Muir Wood Study that may indicate a teen is experiencing alcohol abuse:

  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Acting “out of it” during conversations or having a hard time following through on commitments
  • Mood swings or angry outbursts
  • Changes in friends, activities, interests
  • Increased secrecy
  • Finding substances of any kind in his possession
  • Odd smells or stains on his clothes
  • Increase in physical illness (e.g., vomiting, headaches, or other indications of hangover)

young-422332_1280The thought of underage drinking can be a scary deal so I’ve listed a few actions that parents can do to help ensure that their teenagers are safe and protected from alcohol abuse.

  • Communicate- Communication is probably the most important thing you can do. Knowing what your teenager is doing and where they are throughout the day can help you keep track of their daily activities. This will give you a piece of mind as they are out and about throughout the summer.
  • Set rules and consequences- Having set rules and curfews will help keep your teenager from staying out to late and from potentially engaging in drinking. Having rules to follow by will help keep them out of trouble.
  • Show you care- Telling teenagers you are worried about their safety and explaining why you are creating rules will help them understand why you are doing what you are doing. This may also strengthen the relationship between you and the teen.
  • Be Alert- Look for signs that your child may be engaging in drinking. It’s never too help stop them from engaging in illegal activity. Look for signs and be cautious.