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 Here are tips to start the conversation.

Six Tips to Make Sure Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix This Summer

By Fadi Seikaly, Programs Director, The Century Council

School is over and summer vacations are finally here!  This time of year can be especially challenging for both youth as well as parents.  In most cases, this is a period of transition for youth: whether it’s starting middle school, or graduating from high school and heading to college.  Kids and teens now have ample time on their hands for all sorts of activities yet parents’ supervision might be limited due to their everyday obligations.  This reality can provide fertile ground for youth to experiment and engage in risky behaviors such as underage drinking.

Contrary to popular belief, research shows that kids still listen to parents when it comes to talking about underage drinking.  Therefore, it is extremely important for parents to be prepared to have conversations with their kids regarding the dangers of underage drinking.  

Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix provides parents with excellent resources to help them make the most of these important conversations.  In the meantime, here are some tips to help you keep your kids safe this summer:

  1. Keep the conversation going: It’s never too early to talk with your kids about underage drinking. You can make use of daily situations to start the conversation.  Remember, multiple conversations are more effective than a lecture!

  2. Be involved: Kids need to know their parents are around and care. Make sure you know what they are doing.  You can plan some healthy and fun activities with your kids and teenagers. Share some quality time with them!

  3. Stay Aware: Always know your kids’ whereabouts and who they are with. If you can’t be physically present, try to get a relative or a neighbor to check on the kids every once in a while.  Take advantage of technology to keep in touch with them!

  4. Set the Rules:  Make sure your kids know your expectations, house rules and the consequences for breaking them.

  5. Connect: Other Parents are facing the same challenges you are. Get to know these parents and make sure you are all on the same page when it comes to underage drinking.

  6. Keep count:  Keep an inventory of the alcohol at your house. Make sure that it’s out of your kids’ reach; this will also help them in dealing with peer pressure.

Follow these links to order your free copies of the Ask, Listen, Learn Parents and Kids brochures.  Remember, this summer and during the rest of the year encourage your kids to say YES to a healthy lifestyle and NO to underage drinking!

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This Holiday Season, Plan Ahead to Avoid Impaired Driving

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2010, more than 10,000 Americans died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes - one death every 48 minutes. That’s nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. Meanwhile, 17 percent of traffic deaths among children involved an alcohol-impaired driver. In half of those crashes, the young victim was riding in the vehicle with the alcohol-impaired driver. Drugs other than alcohol (e.g., marijuana and cocaine) are involved in about 18 percent of motor vehicle driver deaths.

Scheduled to coincide with the holiday season, December 2012 is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. Whenever your social schedule involves alcohol, make plans so that you don’t have to drive after drinking. For example:

  • Prior to any drinking, designate a non-drinking driver when with a group.
  • Don’t let your friends drive impaired. Take their keys away.
  • If you have been drinking, get a ride home or call a taxi.
  • If you’re hosting a party where alcohol will be served, remind your guests to plan ahead and designate their sober driver; offer alcohol-free beverages; and make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.

One third of auto accident deaths are alcohol related. Be careful and be responsible this holiday season. 

Drug and Alcohol Overdoses for Young Adults Up Dramatically

According to the National Institutes of Health, hospitalizations among 18 to 24-year-olds increased between 1999 and 2008 by

  • 25 percent for alcohol overdoses
  • 56 percent for drug overdoses
  • 76 percent for combined alcohol and drug overdoses.
  • 122 percent increase for poisonings from opioid pain meds like OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin

Signs of alcohol or drug overdose can vary. Some signs to look for include abnormal breathing, drowsiness, sweating, agitation or confusion.

If you suspect that someone has overdosed on drugs and/or alcohol, call 911 immediately. People who have passed out could die, so you shouldn’t wait.

Learn more about first aid for overdoses of drugs and alcohol. You can also find a substance abuse treatment center for yourself or a friend.