Talking to Teens about Alcohol

Talking to Teens about Alcohol

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Disclosure: We attended an event sponsored by Heineken to discuss the impact of parent-child communication about alcohol. All opinions are our own.

Young people often don’t fully understand the risks and effects of alcohol consumption, which makes discussing responsible drinking with teenagers imperative for parents of youth.

Heineken sponsored a discussion with Drs. Karen Soren and Julia Potter, who shared findings from their recent research study on the impact of parent-child communication about alcohol, funded by Heineken.

These two doctors are experts in their field pertaining to this topic. Karen Soren, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health (Population and Family Health) at Columbia University Medical Center, and the Director of Adolescent Medicine at the of New-York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.  Julia Potter, MD, recently completed her Adolescent Medicine Fellowship at Columbia University Medical Center and will be starting as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University Medical Center this October, where she will pursue clinical research in parent-teen communications.

The study was conducted by the doctors from December 2014 through January 2015, through which they explored the impact of parent-teen communication about alcohol use on underage problem drinking. 310 sets of parents and young adults (ages 21-23) were asked to complete a retrospective survey focusing on young adults’ drinking behaviors, parents’ knowledge of these behaviors, as well as their relationships and types of alcohol communication.

The main findings of the study were that parental approval of underage drinking is associated with increased odds of problem drinking. If either parent or young adult expressed discomfort discussing alcohol, there were increased odds of problem drinking.

With these findings in mind, 95 percent of parents report discussing alcohol use with their young adults. Not surprisingly, young adults report more discomfort than their parents in discussing alcohol. The majority of the conversations started at ages 12-17.

When it comes to parental disapproval, 97 percent of parents disapprove of their children drinking to intoxication, while 60 percent disapprove of children trying even one sip of alcohol. While having one sip does not sound too threatening, it does show approval, which according to the study can lead to increased odds of problem drinking. Problem drinking can include serious physical risks, such as getting into a fight, or having had unplanned sex while drunk.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Lorianne Lacey
Lorianne Lacey
Lorianne Lacey

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