Topic 1 Introduction

Alcohol is the most major substance abuse problem faced by teens. Parents, rightfully concerned about their teen’s health, need to be on the lookout for signs that their teens are drinking.

Scenario: Your son comes home on Saturday night after a meeting the boys. He knocks on the front door and says he is sleepy, heading quickly to his room. You also smell freshly applied perfume around him. Your suspicions are directed towards the use of alcohol or other illicit substances.

How do you know if he has been drinking? How do you react?

Conclusion: Start a conversation with him-not a conversation across rooms and behind closed doors, but a real face-to-face conversation. If your child has been drinking alcohol, you will smell it on his breath. With the smell of perfume, he’s probably trying to cover up a telltale odour. And the fact that he is in a hurry to avoid you is another symptom that the child has used some kind of alcohol.

How to react? It is very important that the child receives understanding, which is not an exoneration. We shouldn’t say: “It’s OK that you got drunk, it happens to everyone”. First we should take care of him physically i.e. let him sleep and the next day have a conversation. If we start shouting, the child will feel rejected and distant from us. When we react calmly in crisis situations, we also teach our child how to behave in the future, we show him how to handle himself in such situations, we set a good example. The next day, take your time and ask them to tell you what happened. Listen and then tell them how you feel – upset, angry, worried, frustrated, whatever. Then review all the issues you discussed about the dangers, your rules, and the punishments you agreed on.