ALCOHOL AND OTHER DRUG USE DURING TRANSITIONAL PERIODS
Research has shown that the highest risk periods for alcohol and other drug use among youth are during major transitions in teen lives, including entering high school. At this time, teens face social, emotional and educational challenges and are exposed to greater availability of drugs, drug users and social activities involving alcohol and other drugs. Source: www.drugabuse.gov. What should parents do and not do? Read on!
ALLOWING TEENS TO USE SUBSTANCES AT HOME
Some parents believe that it is better to allow our teens to drink "under their roof" in order to stay "safe" or teach them how to drink responsibly. The research shows otherwise. While this may be well intentioned and achieve these goals in the short term, the research shows these actions are counterproductive in the long term.
An NIH paper published in July 2014 examined 22 studies on the issue of parents providing alcohol for youth or providing a place to drink. The paper concluded that "there is little research evidence to support the notion that it is even possible to 'teach children to drink alcohol responsibly.'".
The paper quoted three studies in 2004, 2010 and 2012 and found that "parents might believe they are keeping their children and their children's friends safe by allowing them to drink in their home. This is not the case. Adolescents who attend parties where parents supply alcohol are at increased risk for heavy episodic drinking and related problems and drinking and driving". See http://ncbi.nim.nh.gov/pubmed/24988258.
The same also applies to other drug use. Simply put, the premise that parents are keeping their teens safe when they provide a place to party and look the other way, albeit well-intentioned, is a false one.
In the book "Where's the Party" by Jonathan Scott, Chapter 2.1 entitled "When Your Child Goes to Parties" contains specific guidance on the better approach. Chapter 14 of "Getting to Calm" by Laura Kastner also provides practical guidance.
Remember, our actions affect other teens, not just our own. We are in this together and it takes a village to protect our teens.
SOCIAL HOST ORDINANCES
Not only is it ill advised to allow teens to drink alcohol or use other drugs at home but it is also illegal. Local Social Host Ordinances that exist in our communities hold an adult and/or minor liable for fines of $750 and up for underage parties involving alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. Adults are strictly responsible - whether home or not or whether they have knowledge or not. And liability may result if as few as two or more minors (the number depends on the jurisdiction) are present consuming alcohol or controlled substances.