Prom and graduation season: Talk to your kids about drinking - KMSP-TV

Prom and graduation season: Talk to your kids about drinking

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(WJBK) - It's a tricky time of the year for teens. With prom and graduation, celebrations are everywhere which means this is the time for parents to talk to kids about the dangers of drinking.

How many teens are actually drinking? The number say - a lot.

The National Institutes of Health estimates about 1.7 million young people drink heavily.

Here's one of the problems: a teenager's brain is still developing and is very sensitive to alcohol's effects.

Short-term effects of alcohol include loss of balance and blurred vision, which can make typical activities like crossing a busy intersection very dangerous.

"It's worth having the conversation that alcohol is a toxin. It can harm your body. It has impact on your driving and your judgment where you can harm another person," says Cleveland Clinic Children's Dr. Ellen Rome.

Parents are being urged to point out the trouble their graduate could get into if they are caught drinking under age. Dr. Rome says parents should also talk to their graduates about alcohol poisoning, which can lead to permanent brain damage or even death.

"You can have the choice of putting that drink to your mouth or just putting it aside and no alcohol poisoning happens when somebody doesn't drink. So, help them have the skills and the tools and the words to say to keep themselves safe," advises Dr. Rome.

So what are those words?
 
Encourage them to ask questions when offered any drink, such as, 'Where did this come from?'
 
Teach them to simply say, 'No thanks.'

Make sure they have an exit strategy to get out of an uncomfortable situation. Sometimes, that means parents offering a no-questions-asked policy when called upon for a ride or help.

Dr. Rome says studies have shown parents can make a difference, so talking to your graduating teen could help prevent a life-changing mistake.
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