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Binge drinking teenagers

30 November
Posted by:
Michael Grose

Teenagers today drink differently to teens of previous generations. They drink younger and harder than ever. Binge drinking teenagers once a rarity, are now common place!

The functional drinking age for young people in western countries is around 2 years less than the legal drinking age. That is, drinking alcohol comes an increasingly accepted part of life around the age of 16 when the legal age is eighteen.

In countries such as the US where the legal drinking age is 21, it seems that young people consider drinking a lot later than in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Many parents of teenagers under the age of 18 that I meet throw their hands in the air at the inevitability of teen drinking. “They’re going to drink no matter what I do, so what’s the point... of stopping them?”

This attitude is nuts!

Health professionals agree that parent attitude to drinking is a factor in kids’ drinking!

There are three things we can do to impact on the drinking behaviour of young people:

1. Model: Young people are influenced by their peers, but their drinking habits are also influenced by what they see and live at home. If you live in a home where alcohol is consumed every night by adults then cut back for the sake of the young people at home. Have a grog-free night each week. Celebrate without alcohol. Let young people see that you can function well, enjoy yourself or relieve stress without grog.

2. Monitor: Know where your kids are at night. Parent disapproval and parent monitoring are two strategies known to lower drinking levels among young people. Teens won’t always be upfront about their activities with their parents but that doesn’t mean that we don’t try like crazy to make sure they are where they say they are when they go out. Put the onus on them to contact you if their plans change at night.

3. Make it hard: Don’t make drinking easy for young people. That means, don’t buy under age kids alcohol when they go to a party in the hope that they will just drink a little. Kids will take yours, and then drink more when that’s finished. Put up as many fences as you possibly can to make it difficult for kids to drink.

There is little doubt that binge drinking is a massive issue among young people. But that doesn’t mean we throw our hands in the air and do nothing. Adults aren’t powerless.

We can influence our kids by our behaviour. For more information go to

  • alcohol
  • binge
  • drinking
  • teenagers
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