This week is National Prevention Week, and with summer vacation just days away, now is an important time to talk with teens about the dangers of underage drinking.
Tiffany Hall, the executive director of Recover Alaska, says it’s not only risky behavior but it can cause long term physical damage. She added underage drinkers are at a higher risk for sexual assault, violence and suicide.
“Their brains are still developing, so it really impacts them in a different way than it does adults,” Hall said.
In Alaska, 14.3 percent of kids say they’ve tried alcohol before they turned 13, she added. One in five reported they were drinking in the past thirty days, according to Hall. She mentioned kids who start drinking before they turn 15 are five times more likely develop alcohol dependency later in life than those who wait until their 20s.
Prevention is more cost effective than treatment or interventions, Hall says. For parents to start the conversation with their kids, she recommends staying relaxed and not making it a big issue. Hall also recommends having more than just one talk so it can sink in. There’s an app called “Talk. They Hear You.” which can help parents be more informed and help build a plan. Hall said kids who don’t want to drink can still cave under peer pressure. She noted that parents can set up a code word with their children to text them so they can be removed from a potentially dangerous situation.
For more information, visit Recover Alaska’s website.