Holiday Dangers for Teens

December 2007

The holiday season is one of the most deadly times of the year for alcohol-related crashes especially for teenagers. MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) estimates that “each year nationally, more than 1,000 people die during the holiday season in drunk driving crashes” (MADD, 2006). Because of increased consumption of alcohol and an increase in the number of special events and parties, drinking and driving is more prevalent. Even if you think your teen doesn’t drink, participating holiday parties where drinking occurs puts them in danger.

Most teenagers don’t understand how alcohol affects their bodies, teaching them the science behind what is really happening in relation to them could help save their life. Here are a couple facts parents could use to discuss the dangers of alcohol – especially during the holiday season.

  • Underage drinkers are more likely to become alcoholics. Almost half of kids who begin drinking at age 14 or younger become alcohol dependent at some point in their lives.
  • Teens who drink are more likely to commit or be the victim of violence (including sexual assault). The teenage brain is not fully developed, particularly the part that stores memory. After a couple drinks teens are less likely to remember what happens to them.
  • Drinking alcohol hurts sports and other athletic performance. A recent ESPN report featuring Dr. Gary Wadler, a professor at the New York University School of Medicine, stated that drinking alcohol after a practice or game can impair your ability to play sports for up to 14 hours. Some of the effects are slowed reaction time, problems with balance and steadiness, dehydration, and a decline in fine and complex motor skills.
  • Drinking alcohol regularly can make you gain weight – particularly in the stomach. Alcohol is classified as a food not a drink because it contains calories. The average alcoholic drink has about the same amount of calories as a large baked potato, minus the nutritional value.
  • At all levels of blood alcohol concentration, the risk of being involved in a crash is greater for teens than adults (Zador et al. 2000). In 2005, 16% of drivers ages 16 to 20 who died in motor vehicle crashes had been drinking alcohol (NHTSA 2006).

So as the holiday season comes and goes make sure your teen is protected. If you think your teen is already involved in alcoholic tendencies, now is the time to get help. If talking to your teen doesn’t seem to be enough, it may be time to take alternative actions. If you need help with your teen contact Parent Help now 1-844-622-6705.

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