Parents and Teens: Observing Dry January Together

Albert Fontenot Addiction, Alcoholism, Parents, Teen Drinking, Underage Drinking Leave a Comment

Every New Year millions of people work on improving themselves – losing weight, saving more money, exercising, etc. But for those people who are struggling with a drinking problem, there is another annual tradition worth observing, and it could be life-changing –“Dry January”.

That is especially true for underage drinkers. 90% of the alcohol consumed by people not of legal age is during dangerous bouts of binge-drinking.

First Things First–What Is Dry January?

Dry January is an annual month-long awareness campaign where observants voluntarily stop drinking alcohol for the entire month of January. Although it originated in the UK, Dry January has become so successful that it is now observed around the world by millions of people.

Why is Dry January Important?

The event has two primary goals:

FIRST, it is an opportunity for EVERYONE to take a look at their drinking and how it is affecting other areas of their life. Here’s a clue—if you feel you NEED alcohol to have a good time, you might have a problem.

SECOND—and just as important— it raises awareness about a devastating issue that for affects far too many teens and their families. In fact, according to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, more teens use alcohol than cigarettes or even marijuana.

The Benefits of Dry January

There are several positive, practical benefits to observing Dry January. According to Britain’s Alcohol Concern:

  • Almost 80% of Dry January participants save money. The average drinker will spend close to $70,000 on alcohol during their lifetime.
  • Over 60% say they have more energy and sleep better. This isn’t surprising, because as Dr. Pradeep Sahota, M.D., Chair of the University of Missouri School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology, says, “Alcohol disrupts sleep, and the quality of sleep is diminished.”
  • Nearly half report losing weight. Although alcohol is low in nutritional value, it is high in calories.

What Dry January Means to YOUR Family

“The most protective strategy for parents is to make it really clear to their teens that they completely disapprove of underage alcohol use.”

~ Caitlin Abar, Pennsylvania State University

For parents, this is an excellent time to have a conversation with your teenagers about drinking:

  • WHY people drink
  • The CONSEQUENCES of alcohol abuse
  • The DANGERS of underage drinking
  • ALTERNATIVES to drinking
  • How to handle PEER PRESSURE

Make this a true family affair, and include any preteen siblings. And don’t worry –it’s almost impossible to have this talk TOO early, because the average age of a child’s first intoxication is only 12 years old.

Remember that YOU have to set the example – Dry January is your chance to show your teenager that you don’t NEED alcohol to have a good time. Demonstrate with your behavior when a healthy relationship with alcohol looks like.

Dr. Mark Wood, a Psychology Professor at the University of Rhode Island, says, “The protective effects that parents exert in high school continue to be influential into college. Even after a time when the kids have left the home. So, it’s the internalization of those values, attitudes and expectations that seem to continue to exert an effect.”

If underage drinking is taking a toll on your family, Teensavers Treatment Centers can help. As one of the most-trusted youth-focused addiction recovery programs in Southern California, Teensavers provides comprehensive recovery services for teenagers and families affected by substance abuse, emotional, or behavioral disorders.

Teensavers – “Transforming lives…”

by Albert Fontenot

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