Can You "Teach" a Teen to Drink Safely?
Lisa Frederiksen, author of If You Loved Me, You'd Stop, says that underage drinking prevention is one of the most important things we can do as parents, caregivers, educators, and the community at large. This is because drinking (and other drug use) problems often begin in adolescence. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Studies show that the earlier an individual starts smoking, drinking or using other drugs, the greater the likelihood of developing addiction. 9 out of 10 people who abuse or are addicted to nicotine, alcohol or other drugs began using these substances before they were 18. People who began using addictive substances before age 15 are nearly 7 times likelier to develop a substance problem than those who delay first use until age 21 or older. Every year that substance use is delayed during the period of adolescent brain development, the risk of addiction and substance abuse decrease.
Three Reasons Why Underage Drinking Prevention is So Important
The first reason is the brain developmental processes occurring during puberty. Check out the following short videos to explain more about this concept.
The second is adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), commonly referred to as childhood trauma. Experiencing adverse childhood experiences, which are stressful or traumatic events occurring before age 18, can actually change brain wiring and mapping, and these changes can make the brain especially vulnerable to the desire for alcohol or other drug use if drinking (or other drug use) is initiated at a young age.
The third reason is that the two conditions described above: 1) early use – drinking or using other drugs before age 21, and 2) childhood trauma / ACEs are two of the key risk factors for developing an alcohol (or other drug use) disorder. For more information on this, check out "Want to Prevent Addiction? Assess Your Risk Factors."