The Challenges of Teen Binge Drinking
What is the best way to manage an intoxicated teenager?
Unfortunately, teenage binge drinking and alcohol intoxication is something that far too many parents will have to deal with at some time or another. You provide rules to ensure your teenager’s overall future safety, as well as to protect their brain development within those formative years. However, when teenagers break the rules on alcohol parents can feel let down, especially when they come home intoxicated.
Whilst the social trends have seen a spike in teen binge drinking, as a parent the more informed you are about the behaviours and dangers of binge drinking, the better the position you are in to guide your teens through this challenging journey.
It’s normal to feel disappointed but it’s also important to keep contained and realise that now is not the time to fall apart in anger. As a parent it’s up to you to take control and to manage the situation appropriately. This is not the time to question, “Where did it all go wrong?” All that matters is, “What do I do next?”
The teenage years are full of parenting challenges and dealing with a teenager and alcohol intoxication may be just one of them. Offer your teenager advice and communicate the dangers of under age drinking and alcohol in their teens.
- Look out for the signs that are likely to be obvious. Even if they drink a moderate amount at the very least you will be able to smell it on their breath or their clothing.
- Explain your concerns about their drinking. Advise them about the range of risks involved and your concerns. They may not agree with your views on the matter, however they need to understand why you have introduced the rules in the first place.
- Set clear boundaries. Make your expectations regarding alcohol very clear and if rules are broken, be consistent with following through on agreed consequences that are appropriate and realistic, as well as ensure that your teenager is not surprised with the next steps.
- Attempt to find out what is going on with your teenager and what has led to this incident. It is important to be aware that although at times the media portrays the majority of teenagers get drunk regularly, there are also many young people of this age bracket who do not indulge. Try not to convince yourself that this is ‘just a stage’ and that all young people go through it. Drinking to excess, or binge drinking is potentially life threatening at any age and as a parent you need to address the subject with sensitively.
- Make sure your teen knows that no matter what happens you will be there for them. They can call you anytime and anywhere – if something goes wrong, you will be there. You want them to come home safely and if that involves you picking them up at midnight from a night that has gone horribly wrong – you will be there!
- If they do come home drunk it is probably not the right time to argue about it. Wait until the morning after to discuss the situation. Ensure they are safe and able to go to bed safely (i.e. do not lay them down until they have sobered up and make sure they are not going to vomit) and let them know that you will talk to them later. Hopefully you will be much calmer and they will be feeling a little worse for wear and more likely to accept your opinion and guidance.
- Seek professional help. If you are worried that this is becoming regular behaviour, speak to your GP about the problem and ask for a referral to a health professional who has expertise in this area. You could also talk to the school counsellor and let them know you need help.