LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - We know from the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency that every year, 5,000 people under the age of 21 die from a crash, poisoning, accident or suicide, all of which are found to be alcohol related.
The theme this month during Alcohol Awareness Month is "Talk Early and Talk Often"...hoping parents will be encouraged to talk to kids about alcohol and what it does to the brain.
Dr. Jeffrey Hannel, a family physician at Grace Clinic, says the brain is still developing into the early 20s... and will develop differently if exposed to alcohol.
He says, "The problem with caffeinated beverages and especially energy drinks is the brain acts like alcohol is a suppressant and all of a sudden the caffeine wakes the brain up. The alcohol is an inhibition mechanism and that's why people tend to drink and use less inhibition. But when the caffeine affects it, all of a sudden they're more likely to make a bad choice and think that they're not as drunk as they thought they were."
Dr. Hannel adds that there is a five times greater risk of alcohol abuse in those who start drinking before the age of 21.
Since the theme this month is "Talk Early and Talk Often", Dr. Hannel has provided the suggestions below to help open the lines of communication between parents and teens about alcohol.
He has also provided some very good resources so that parents can get the facts about alcohol and alcohol abuse.
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GUIDELINES from Jeffrey Hannel, M.D., Family Medicine at Grace Clinic:
Listen Before You Talk -- Encourage Conversation: As parents we want to have "all the answers." And, sometimes we are so anxious to share our wisdom or our opinion that we don't take the time to listen. For kids, knowing that we are really listening is the most important thing we can do to help.
Talk to Your Child and Ask Open Ended Questions: Talk to your child regularly – about their feelings, their friends, their activities – and listen to what they have to say. As much as you can, and sometimes it's not easy, try to avoid questions that have a simple "yes" or "no" answer.
Be Involved: Be involved in your child's everyday world. Get to know your child's friends and continue to educate your child about the importance of maintaining good health – psychological, emotional and physical.
Set Expectations, Limits and Consequences: Make it clear that you do not want your child drinking alcohol or using drugs and that you trust them not to. Talk about possible consequences of drug and alcohol use, both legal and medical, and be clear about what you will do if the rules are broken.
Be Honest and Open: Care about what your child is going through as they face and make decisions that will affect their lives now and for the future.
Be Positive: Many parents have discovered that talking about alcohol and drugs with their children has built bridges rather than walls between them and have proudly watched those children learn to make healthy, mature decisions on their own.
Family History: Both research and personal experience have clearly documented that addiction to alcohol and other drugs is a chronic, progressive disease that can be linked to family history and genetics. So, if you have a family history of problems with alcohol or drugs, be matter of fact about it, as you would any other chronic disease, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer.
RESOURCES TO HELP:
www.samhsa.gov/underage-drinking (A Great program to tell parents how to talk to their children about alcoholism.)