The Pressure to Drink
Prom and Graduation Safety Tips for Teens and Parents
In the United States, ninety percent of alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 is in the form of binge drinking. This statistic from the Centers for Disease Control is alarming to say the least. Not only are our kids consuming alcohol while underage, but they are drinking a large amount of alcohol and placing themselves in serious danger of alcohol poisoning or even death.
With the end of the school year upon us, it’s time to prepare for the upcoming prom and graduation season. Young men and women throughout our community will be planning to attend their school prom followed by graduation celebrations, both for themselves and their friends.
As parents, it is our responsibility to continue to enforce rules that encourage our kids to make good choices. Our young people are faced with an alarming amount of peer pressure. We must remind our teens about the consequences they face from participating in risky choices with all drugs, including alcohol.
To help tackle this responsibility, here are some tips to consider – for both teens and parents. As a parent, make sure you have your teen read this article, or sit down and discuss these talking points with them.
Plan Ahead and Stick To It!
As a teen, you might think adults have little concept of the peer pressures you face. But we really do understand that the pressure is constant and all around you. That said, we don’t want a moment of peer pressure to change the course of your life. When planning for prom and graduation celebrations, make sober celebration plans in advance and stick to them. Don’t give into peer pressure. In the long run, it’s never worth it.
Yes, Make That Phone Call
Call an adult you trust if you get into a situation you know isn’t safe. Make the call no matter what time it is and no matter where you are.
The Consequences are Real…
Remember that, until you hit 21, it is illegal to drink. The law doesn’t care that it’s your prom night or graduation celebration. And the law doesn’t take into consideration that “everyone’s doing it.” Drinking or having alcohol in your possession will result in criminal and civil liabilities such as court costs, jail, loss of scholarships, school consequences, a suspended driver’s license and much more.
Remove Yourself From the Situation
If you find yourself at a party where alcohol is being served, find a safe way to leave. Don’t be afraid to make up an excuse like “I don’t want to miss my curfew” or “I have another party I promised to check out.” Do what’s necessary in order to get out of the situation.
Don’t Get In that Car!
Don’t get into a vehicle with someone you know has been drinking. Again, the pressure to seem “cool” with what’s going on around you is intense, but getting into a car with a drunk driver is dangerous and deadly. And of course, never get behind the wheel if you have been drinking.
Have a Real Conversation
You might think that your teen knows better, but don’t underestimate the peer pressures they face when you’re not around. You need to sit down and have a real discussion with your teen about underage drinking laws and the rules you have set as a family.
Encourage that Phone Call
Your teen needs to know that they have an out, so encourage him or her to call you immediately if the get into a situation that isn’t safe, no matter what time it is and no matter where they are. Emphasize this so that they know that they can rely on you if ever they need to.
Don’t Be the “Cool” Parent
Don’t mistakenly think that it’s better if your teen and their friends drink under your careful supervision. It not only sends mixed messages – it also comes with severe consequences. Providing alcohol to minors could result in criminal and civil liabilities. Homeowners potentially could lose their homeowners insurance as a result of hosting an underage party.
Discuss with your teen ways to celebrate these special occasions other than participating in underage drinking.
Be an Enforcer
Set a curfew for your teen and enforce it. Yes, prom and graduation nights are special times in their lives, but it’s still crucial to have rules and guidelines in place to ensure they are safe and making smart decisions.
With prom and graduation, chances are your teen will be attending parties at their friends’ homes. If teens are planning an event at another home, contact those parents to make sure they will be supervising and that no alcohol will be present.
Hopefully, you’ve sat down with your teens and talked candidly about the consequences of drinking. But in a worst case scenario, here are some tips on what to do if you find a teen who has had too much to drink and is in danger.
If alcohol poisoning is suspected:
Seek medical attention immediately (Call 911).
If the person is vomiting, make sure he or she is sitting up.
If the person is unconscious, do not leave him or her alone.
If the person is conscious, you may call the Poison Control Center at 1.800.222.1222 or local authorities at 911.
If anyone has information regarding an underage drinking party, you make call or text this information to our area SUDS (Stop Underage Drinking and Sales) tip line at 574. 217.5150.
*This article was prepared by me on behalf of the Drug Free Community Council Prevention Committee.