As we approach the holidays, we get so caught up in buying the perfect gifts, decorating the house, and entertaining relatives, that we sometimes forget about making sure our teens are safe. However, the holidays can be a time of high risk for teens in terms of alcohol and drug use. It can start with “Blackout Wednesday,” which is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when college students come home and get together with high school friends. This night is often associated with binge drinking to the point of losing memory or “blacking out.” According to the Sun Times, in the Chicago suburbs, Blackout Wednesday can be a more popular drinking night than New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s Day. The holiday break can also be a high-risk time as elementary, middle school, and college students have more free time and celebrations are in full swing. Consider sharing the gift of your undivided time and attention to connect with your teens.
Remember, it is illegal to host a party for those under 21 years of age regardless of whether you purchased the alcohol or not. Violations not only include your home but property(s) that you rent as well, such as a hotel room, banquet hall, a limousine, etc. If someone is injured or killed as a result of the social hosting, you run the risk of being charged with a Class 4 felony and sentenced to between 1 and 3 years imprisonment and up to $25,000 in fines. You would also face the risk of being sued in civil court. Again, the onus of the social host violation rests on the adult(s). The law assumes that you know the happenings in your home(s)—even if you are away. It is imperative to take all precautions necessary to prevent alcohol from being consumed by minors in your home or property.
Science has proved that the teenage brain continues to develop until the age of 25. What does that statement imply? Simply that this is the last time your child’s brain will grow this extensively, and any alcohol and drug use can harm this process. It is vital for parents and frankly any adult, to keep these young and developing minds safe from the risks and consequences of underage drinking and drug use. Science has given us the power to make new, more informed choices when it comes to how we parent these young brain factories. Here are some important tips to help you keep your teen(s) alcohol and drug-free:
- Set clear “no use” expectations with your child. They may not always make the right choices and control their impulses, but they must be able to practice making healthy decisions within the framework of a clear set of rules and expectations.
- Teach your children that alcohol or drugs are not ingredients for a good time at a party.
- If you have alcohol in your home, make sure to monitor it or even better, lock it up. Also, lock up your prescription drugs and make sure to dispose of any unused or expired prescription drugs at your local police station.
- Get to know your child’s friends — and their friends’ parents.
- Know your teens' whereabouts at all times, who they spend time with, and their social plans.
- Make sure that if you have older children that they understand it is against the law to provide alcohol to a minor.
For more information about underage drinking and drug prevention or how to host an alcohol-free party, please subscribe to our site or follow us on Facebook. Wishing everyone a very happy and safe holiday season.
Stand Strong Coalition and Catalyst Club