April is Alcohol Awareness Month and this year’s National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) theme is: “Talk Early, Talk Often: Parents Can Make a Difference in Teen Alcohol Use.

It is important to know that parents play a significant role in preventing and reducing underage alcohol misuse. As a parent, you can be a primary source of positive and reliable information when “teachable moments” present themselves. It’s not so much about “the big talk” but about being there for your teen(s) when concerns arise on TV, at the movies, on the radio, about celebrities or professional athletes, or even their friends.

Don’t miss an opportunity to have a conversation. In fact, research has shown that children are 50% less likely to use alcohol when parents talk early and talk often. As parents, you have more influence over your child’s attitudes and choices than you think. It’s never too early to begin the conversation…so start talking!

According to the NCADD, here are some basic guidelines to assist you:

  • Listen Before You Talk: Encourage conversation. You, as parents, “have all the answers” and are sometimes so anxious to share your wisdom or opinion that you forget to take the time to listen. For kids, knowing that parents are listening is very important. 
  • Be Involved: Get to know your child’s friends and continue to educate your child about the importance of good health –emotional, psychological, and physical. 
  • Ask Open-Ended Questions: Talk to your child regularly about their feelings, their friends, and their activities. Avoid, as much as you can, questions that have a simple “yes” or “no” response. 
  • Set Expectations and Consequences: Talk about consequences and be clear about what will happen if the rules are broken.

The Substance Abuse Counseling Center (SACC) offers a wide array of prevention, intervention, and counseling services to promote the readiness of Marines and their families.  For more information about Alcohol Awareness Month, contact your installation SACC