National Safety Month a Good Time to Talk to Teens about Drinking Alcohol and Drug Use

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Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers is taking the opportunity of National Safety Month to offer parent some tips and reminders about drinking alcohol and drug use among adolescents and young adults.

alcohol and drug use, talking to teens
"If parents want their children to grow up to realize their full potential, they should not condone drinking alcohol or smoking pot," - Dr. John Larson, Gateway's Corporate Medical Director.

June is National Safety Month, which also coincides with the end of the school year. It's a time of year when many young people have extra time on their hands and for some, temptation can be right around the corner.

In keeping with National Safety Month, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers would like to remind parents to talk with their kids about drinking alcohol and drug use.

Start the Conversation
The power of conversation should not be underestimated – adolescents really do listen to what their parents say about smoking, drinking alcohol and drug use. It can be a challenge to find the time to have a sit-down, face-to-face conversation with your children, but it's well worth the effort. Once a conversation has been initiated, it should become an ongoing dialogue that you will revisit and reinforce over the years.

Communicating Effectively
Parents may be unsure how to begin talking to their children about alcohol and drugs. The following tips can help:

  • Listen to your child and respect what he or she has to say. A child who feels judged is less likely to share their concerns with you.
  • Be clear about your expectations of no drinking alcohol or drug use and let your child know these expectations will be enforced.
  • Talk about the dangers of drinking alcohol and drug use, including laws, potential repercussions and health-related outcomes.

Know the Dangers
The brain of an adolescent is not yet fully developed. Drinking alcohol damages the development of the executive function of the brain, which is how we make decisions, defer gratification, and plan now for a reward that's down the road.

Marijuana also affects the development of the adolescent brain, causing changes that may result in learning issues, memory problems and IQ loss.

"If parents want their children to grow up to realize their full potential, they should not condone drinking alcohol or smoking pot," explains Dr. John Larson, Gateway's Corporate Medical Director.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), following marijuana and alcohol, prescription and over-the-counter drugs    have become the most commonly abused substances by Americans 14 and older. Once a person becomes dependent on opioids such as Vicodin and Oxycontin they may eventually switch to heroin because it is easier to access and much less expensive.

Many parents like to believe their child is not vulnerable to alcohol or drug abuse, but sadly, this isn't so. There is a wide variety of alcohol and drugs available to young people, who are often just looking to have some fun. Establishing open communication is one of the most powerful tools parents have to positively influence their kids' decisions, during National Safety Month, and throughout the year.

For a Parent's Checklist for Talking to Teens about Drugs & Alcohol visit

About Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment
Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers provide substance abuse treatment services for teens and adults at drug treatment centers throughout Illinois and the St. Louis Metro East area. Gateway's outpatient and residential treatment centers are licensed by the state of Illinois and accredited by The Joint Commission. Each year, Gateway's professional clinicians help thousands of individual's successfully complete treatment.

Learn more about Gateway's free, confidential consultation, or call (800) 971-4673.

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Kymberly Vasey
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