This month, make an effort to correct myths and misconceptions, set expectations, and let your children know that you care about them and the choices that they make.
Alcohol remains the number one drug of choice for America’s youth and is more likely to kill young people than all illegal drugs combined¹. In 2021, United Way anonymously surveyed students from the three local high schools and found that roughly 25% of 9-12th graders in Addison County reported underage drinking within the last 30 days². April is Alcohol Awareness Month; an opportunity to bring awareness to one of the nation’s leading public health problems: alcohol misuse. Together, we can educate about the prevention of alcohol misuse, especially among those whose brains are still developing.
Parents play such an important role in giving their kids a better understanding of the impact that alcohol use can have on their lives. Talking is one of the most effective ways that parents can support their children. Setting clear boundaries and expectations lets kids know where parents stand when it comes to alcohol use.
Most people try alcohol for the first time during adolescence or later teen years³. This also happens to be the most critical time for brain development and substance misuse can disrupt this development. High-risk times such as prom and graduation can become opportunities for parents to have these important conversations prior to the events. Studies show that when parents talk to their children about substance use and its dangers, kids are less likely to use or more likely to postpone use until they are older. Everything that is learned during adolescence is absorbed and stored for future decision-making³. This is why it is important to talk about substance use early and often.
Tips for talking with your kids about substance use:
- Find appropriate times to bring up these topics
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions to encourage the conversation
- Listen and do not interrupt
- Correct myths and misconceptions
- Set boundaries and expectations
- Remind them that you care about them and that you want to help
- Talk early and talk often
At United Way, it is our mission to improve the health, education, and financial stability of all people in Addison County. If we can reduce youth substance use rates as our children grow into adults, we know we will be successful at achieving more positive outcomes in these areas.
Resources for parents: