<h1 class='title'>Alcohol: Don’t Let It Be Overlooked</h1>

Alcohol: Don’t Let It Be Overlooked

Summer is almost over for Knox County. School will be starting up again August 10 and now is the perfect time to talk to your kids about one drug that is often overlooked.

Alcohol.

Coming back to school from a long summer vacation is an exciting time for teens. They’ll be greeted by their favorite teachers, get to see their friends every day and get back to playing sports and participating in other extracurricular activities. Don’t let one of those extracurricular activities become alcohol abuse.

According to the 2013 Knox County Schools High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey:

  • 60% of Knox County high school students have had at least one drink of alcohol during their lifetime.
  • 15.7% drank alcohol for the first time before 13 years of age.
  • 18.3% participated in binge drinking at least one day in the 30 days before the survey.

There are many reasons teens decide to start drinking, two of them being peer pressure and stress. It is easy for a high school student to get caught up in a social situation where they’re pressured to drink. Teenagers who believe alcohol makes it easier to socialize, for example, tend to drink more than those who don’t believe that alcohol loosens their social inhibitions. Teens are also at greater risk for developing alcohol-related problems when alcohol is readily available at home or among their peer group, and if drunkenness is acceptable.

Teenagers find it a lot more difficult to cope with stress. This leads to anxiety, exhaustion and tension. Several conditions, like college entrance exams, relationships with friends and family, grades and more, can all be potential stressors for teenagers. Unfortunately, many teens turn to alcohol to relieve their stress.

Talking to kids openly and honestly about the risks of drinking can help reduce their chances of drinking. Set the stage early by letting your teen know that he or she can talk to you about anything, without judgment or lecturing.

It is important for teenagers to understand that alcohol is a drug and consuming it at an early age can simply be the start of a lifelong struggle with alcoholism. Ethanol, commonly known as alcohol, found in beer, wine and spirits is a psychoactive drug that has a depressant effect. Some researchers believe that heavy drinking at this age, when the brain is still developing, may cause lasting impairments in brain functions such as memory, coordination, and motor skills.

Drinking alcohol is an activity that will affect your teen in his or her every day life. Drinking disrupts sleep patterns, which can make it harder to stay awake and concentrate during the day. This lack of sleep can lead to struggles with studying and poor academic performance. Drinking can also cause barriers in relationships due to a change in personality, like becoming angry or moody, when someone is under the influence.

While most people recognize the importance of discussing alcohol with kids, they are not always sure when to initiate this discussion. Adolescents are often nervous and confused as they face their first opportunities to try alcohol and are often interested to hear your thoughts on the subject. Start the conversation now and allow your kids to have a safe and happy school year.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, GET HELP.