What are the signs?
There are a number of signs that your teenager may be drinking.
- Smelling of alcohol
- Wanting to stay over in friends’ houses, especially after discos or parties
- Suddenly using breath mints or brushing teeth more often
- Using too much perfume or aftershave
- Becoming very secretive (more so than usual)
- Lacking co-ordination in speech and movement
- Being excitable, giddy or moody
- Changing sleep patterns or being tired during the day
- Lacking interest in anything
- Getting poor grades and skipping school
- Borrowing money
- Stealing and lying
Some of these signs may be similar to the normal behaviour changes that teenagers go through, so it is important not to jump to conclusions.
What do I do if I know or suspect my teenager is drinking?
- Ask them not to drink.
- Suggest alternatives to your teenager, such as non-alcoholic beers, wines and cocktails.
- If you or another parent drops off and picks up, you have control of what time they arrive and what time they go home.
- Most underage drinking is done before and after the disco.
- If your teenager knows they will have to face you or another adult at the end of the night they may drink much less, if at all.
Tell them never to:
- leave a drink around where it could be spiked
- mix drugs and alcohol
- drink and drive or take a lift with someone who has been drinking or taking drugs; or
- leave a party or club alone.
Things your teenager should know
- Drink slowly so their body has a chance to deal with the alcohol.
- Count how much they are drinking.
- Eat before drinking to avoid getting drunk.
- Use non-alcoholic mixers.
- Use spacers not chasers - take a soft drink every second drink.
- Mind themselves - they should not drink alone.
- Mind their mates - do not leave friends alone if they are drinking. If the friend is in trouble, they should call a responsible adult or an ambulance if needed.
Teenagers will often reject your values and wishes. Stick with it! They may not want to hear your viewpoint but still need to hear it put across calmly and fairly.