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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Teens and Alcohol - What is Normal?

People, people, people, most teens do not drink! I am frustrated by the media's continued insistence that they do. Just last week there was another article in my local paper saying things like: "alcohol is the drug of choice for young people" and "... underage drinking ... has reached epidemic proportions."

Some of the things the article said that did not bug me were "parents are young people's role models. The way they drink, where, when, and what provisions they put into place to stay safe and not drive are critical."

It is true that some teens drink, and those teens are likely to have a drinking problem when they get older, but the majority of teens do not drink regularly and when they do, they are not meaning to "get drunk." Every time we "lie" to teens we undermine our credibility and make it harder for teens to hear our concern for their well-being.

If a teen is drinking, it is a problem and worthy of intervention with doctors, counselors, the school, and community. However, if we portray drinking as the norm, we encourage it- which I know cannot be what people truly want to be doing.

Photo credit: antoinedemorris
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.