The Truth Exposed:
Here's the truth about some common misconceptions about teens and alcohol...
Most teens don't drink.
"Most teens are doing it" is a common misconception when it comes to drinking. Research and surveys across the country consistently show that most teens choose not to drink alcohol. That doesn't mean that it's not a prevalent problem or that it's not something you need discuss with your teen. Alcohol is still the most common drug abused by teens, but you should know that with the proper guidance and information, your teen is more likely to be in the majority who make the right choice to avoid alcohol.
European youth don't drink more responsibly.
Contrary to common assumptions, research has shown that youth and young adults residing in countries that allow alcohol consumption before the age of 21 actually engage in more risky drinking behaviors – not fewer – when compared to the United States. A 2005-2006 study of 40 countries found that the U.S. had one of the lowest rates (36th out of 40) of 13 and 15 year-olds who were drunk at least twice (Health Behavior in School-Age Children, the World Health Organization [WHO], 2008).
Lowering the drinking age will not reduce a teen's desire to drink.
Research suggests that when the drinking age is lowered to the age of 18, alcohol-related injuries in 15-17 year olds increase because they have increased access to alcohol through their older friends and siblings (Kypri, 2006).
A few beers can hurt.
A teen brain is developing until the 20s. The introduction of alcohol or any illegal substance can impair brain development. In fact, studies have shown that even a few episodes of binge drinking (drinking more than 4 drinks at a time) can cause harmful changes to the developing brain. Read more about the teen brain here.
There is no such thing as safe teen drinking.
Some parents figure that their teens are going to drink anyway, so they might as well drink safely at home under their supervision. When you provide alcohol to your teen, you are inadvertently trying to control their decisions. At some point, this will backfire — you can't be in all places at all times with your teen. Instead of trying to control your teen's decisions, teach them to make the right decisions every time. It is only natural for your teen to test boundaries that you set in place for them. Instead of compromising on those boundaries, set clear no-use expectations for alcohol and other drugs. Read more about talking to your teen here.