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Think Before Letting Kids Have a New Year's Drink

December is one of the prime months when youth experiment with alcohol, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (verbaska/morguefile)
December is one of the prime months when youth experiment with alcohol, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (verbaska/morguefile)
December 29, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo - Before uncorking the champagne this New Year's Eve, researchers urge parents to think about the role they play in preventing underage drinking.

The holidays are prime time for youth experimenting with alcohol, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Randy Haveson, an addiction expert and author of the book "Party with a Plan," said reducing use among young people starts at home.

"I find that a lot of parents still have the idea that, 'Oh, they're just teenagers. Of course they're going to experiment.' And it really takes the parents toeing the line more, and not allowing their kids to get away with this," he said.

According to the report, more than 11,000 young people a day will take their first alcoholic drink in December, June or July - the peak months for first-time use.

Research shows that alcohol can have a long-term impact on a teen's brain, preventing the parts of the brain that determine good judgment and encourage impulse control from fully developing. Haveson said the brain isn't fully developed until age 25.

"Study after study shows that the earlier someone begins to drink or do other drugs, the more chance they have of developing a problem," he said.

Haveson suggested talking early and often with your children about alcohol use, explaining why they should abstain, and being careful not to glorify your own adolescent years if you partook.

The research is online at samhsa.gov.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO