What the latest research is saying!

The Teenage brain is still under construction and with new modern imaging technology scientists can actually view the human brain while it is alive and functioning. Neuroscience can help parents understand the importance of delaying their teens' alcohol consumption.

The last Australian School Students Alcohol and Drug Survey was conducted in 2005. The survey found:

  • Almost 40% of teenagers got their last alcoholic drink from their parents
  • 10% of 12 year-olds had consumed alcohol in the week before the survey
  • This had increased to 49% by the time they were 17
  • 30% of 15 years olds & 44% of 17 year olds were binge drinking (7+ drinks for males, 5+ drinks for females) in the past week
  • 25% of parents thought it acceptable to provide 15- 16 yr olds alcohol at a supervised party

These are rather alarming statistics now that we have the research. Alcohol appears to damage more severely the frontal areas of the adolescent brain, crucial for controlling impulses and thinking through consequences of intended actions.

Teenagers appear to be more sensitive to the learning and memory problems that can be caused by alcohol. They are more likely than adults to suffer from lack of judgment and memory loss.
Alcohol has a powerful impact on the ability to form new memories, particularly for facts and events. Short-term or moderate drinking can impair learning and memory far more in youth than in adults. Adolescents need only drink half as much as adults to suffer the same negative effects.

For more information visit these websites:
A parent's guide to the teen brain
Why 21?
Alcohol and adolescent development
The Australian Drug Foundation

Tips for Parents:

  • keep yourself informed - new research is very compelling
  • under 18's should avoid alcohol
  • it is not OK to give under age teenagers alcohol
  • it is against the law to give other people's underage teenagers alcohol
  • create a community of like minded parents
  • not "everyone's" parents are providing alcohol
  • set an example - walk the talk
  • know what is going on in your teenager's lives
  • know their whereabouts
  • check that gatherings and parties are being supervised and no alcohol is being served

Remember, you are not alone. Other parents of teenagers are most likely facing the same issues. Share your concerns as well as what has worked for you when dealing with teenagers and alcohol. If you don't agree with underage drinking (hopefully the new scientific proof has convinced you) then voice your opinion to other parents. You will find that many agree but are afraid to say so for fear of being 'uncool'.

The physical and mental well being of your teenagers is paramount. When the circle of parents of your teenagers friends can agree on safe, responsible behaviour then you will create a safe, strong structure for them to socialize in.

Ultimately we, as parents, want our children to grow into confident, courageous and compassionate young adults.

Author's Bio: 

Tracy Tresidder M.Ed, ACC is a professional parent and teen coach. Parents - learn how to assist your children to build lives of confidence, courage and compassion. Discover the seven simple steps to create a mutually loving and respectful relationship with your teenager. Go to www.coaching4teenagers.com.au to see the programs that are available now. Tracy is also the lead instructor for the Academy for Family Coach Training in Australasia where you can train to become a certified parent and teen coach. The 10 month Advanced Coaching Course, held in Australia on an annual basis, is the only ICF accredited Parent and Teen Coach Training Course in the world to offer CCE certification. Visit the website for more course details.familycoachingtraining.com