MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Location: file:///C:/0F5645D3/Talkingtoyouradolescentwhodrinks.htm Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-Type: text/html; charset="us-ascii" Talking to your adolescent who drinks

Talking to Yo= ur Adolescent Who Drinks


by Kay Hurlock, Psy.D.

Clinical Psychology Associates of North Central Florida, P.A.

All Rights Res= erved 0922//07


Talking to your teenager about alcohol can be a diffic= ult conversation.  You may find yo= urself fumbling about and rarely making any considerable point except, “don’t drink and don’t get in the car with someone who has been drinking.”  The ant= i-drug talk is important, but what do you do when you suspect your teenager is drinking?  How do you take tha= t next step from “Don’t drink.” to “Let’s talk about your drinking.”?  Parents often avoid this because an argument with your child is imminent.  Further, a situation is produced w= here the adolescent feels they are being lectured rather than spoke to as an ind= ividual.


Results of a 2006 study, from the Substance Abuse and = Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), reported the rate of underage drinking, ages 12 to 20, has remained constant since 2002, at 28.3 percent<= sup>1.  In 2006, about 10.8 million adoles= cents and young adults aged 12 to 20 reported drinking alcohol in the past month.  Ma= ny do not involve simple experimentation.  Of these, approximately 7.2 million were binge2 drinkers,= and 2.4 million were heavy3 drinkers1. More males than females aged 12 to 20 reported current alcohol use, binge drinking, and hea= vy drinking in 20061.  The reality of these statistics is that your teenager may already be drinking a= nd parents need to be ready to deal with this situation.  


So how do you get started?  Practice the conversation you hope= to have.  Rehearsing with your pa= rtner, spouse, or even a friend will help you stay on topic.  It may also help to educate yourself about teenage alcohol use.  Many user-friendly websites are available for parents and caregivers.  Having some facts before= you talk to your teen, will help you understand what’s normal and what’s not.    


Tips for talk= ing to your teenager


·       Envi= ronment & Body Language - How you approach your child is extremely important.  Choose somewhere t= hat both you and your child will feel comfortable and undistracted.  Make sure you are both sitting facing each other, where you are able to maintain= eye contact.  Keep your body open = and don’t cross your arms if you become upset with your teen.  Crossing your arms will make you a= ppear unapproachable and defensive.  Give nonverbal support and encouragement by nodding your head and smiling.

·       Cont= rol your reaction to their admittan= ce – If your teen does admit to drinking, be sure to control your reacti= on to this information.  Remainin= g calm and maintaining your cool will keep the communication open and honest. 

·       Open= ended questions – Teens are notorious for a “Yes,” “No,” or “I don’t know answer.”  Don’t give them that option!=   Ask questions that will get a more= than a one-word response. 

For examp= le:  = ;What is it like to be a teenager = in high school today?

        =             &nb= sp;  Tell me about how you f= eel when you drink.    &nbs= p;        <= /p>

    How can we make our talks more meaningful for yo= u?   

<= span style=3D'font-family:Symbol;mso-fareast-font-family:Symbol;mso-bidi-font-fa= mily: Symbol'>·       Reph= rase – Try rephrasing your teen’s comments to indicate you have understo= od.  If you rephrase the wrong information, your teen will let you know he or she h= as not been heard correctly.

·       Enco= urage continued open communication – Thank your teenager for taking the time to talk to you and acknowledge your gratitude for their honesty.  Your teenager will appreciate you = are listening with genuine concern and respect.


So what happens after the talk?  First, you need to assess your teen’s needs.  You will = want to find out the extent of your child’s drinking.  Is it able to be controlled with r= eforming family rules and structure or does your teen need additional help?  What limits or consequences can be agreed on? Are there any incentives to discontinue or change the behavior?<= span style=3D'mso-spacerun:yes'>  Can the adolescent or young adult refocus their time and priorities with more productive activities that tend= to preclude drinking?  If you do = choose to seek help, several options are available, including individual and group therapy from a professional, as well as self-help groups.  It may be best to talk to your teen about your concerns and desire to get them professional help.  Remain supportive and open to their concerns and/or resistance to help. 


Kay Hurlock, Psy.D. is a Ps= ychology Resident with Clinical Psychology Associates of North Central Florida, P.A. 2121 NW 40th Terrace, Suite B, Gainesville, FL 32605 (352) 336-2888 under the supervision of Ernest J. Bordini, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist.  She has experie= nce in psychotherapy with children, adolescents and adults and has appointments available in our Gainesville and Ocala offices. To= learn more, please visit our website at www.cp= ancf.com. 

Other websites of interest:

http://www.stopalcoholabuse= .gov/


www.drugfr= eeamerica.org/Parents_Caregivers


(1) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2007). Results from the 2006 National Survey on Drug U= se and Health: National Findings (Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-32, DHHS Publication No. SMA 07-4293). Rockville, MD.  (2) SAMHSA defines binge use of alcohol as “drinking five or more drinks = on the same occasion (i.e., at the same time or within a couple of hours of ea= ch other) on at least 1 day in the past 30 days.”  (3) SAMHSA defines heavy use of alcohol as “drinking five or more drinks = on the same occasion (i.e., at the same time or within a couple of hours of ea= ch other) on each of 5 or more days in the past 30 days.”