Emergency Care For You

Talking With Teens About Alcohol

Emergency Physicians Team Up With MADD To Offer Tips

The American College of Emergency Physicians is urging parents to educate themselves about how to talk with their teenagers about alcohol, especially in light of a recent report showing that more than 500 emergency department visits per day in 2009 involved underage drinking.  

“We are teaming up with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to offer a free ‘ Power of Parents, It’s Your Influence ®’ handbook to parents as we lead up to PowerTalk 21 Day on April 21, the day for parents to start talking with their children about alcohol,” said Sandra Schneider, MD, FACEP. “Parents are the first line of defense against underage drinking, but it can be daunting to know exactly what to say. This booklet helps guide parents through these conversations with their kids.” 

A government report issued at the end of December showed visits to emergency departments involving underage drinking spike at holidays, such as Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve. On average, 546 emergency department visits a day involved underage drinkers in 2009. Although the legal drinking age in the United States is 21, MADD reports that one in three eighth graders drinks alcohol and one in five teens binge drinks.

Kids who drink alcohol before age 21 are more likely to:

  • Face problems in school 
  • Get assaulted 
  • Abuse alcohol later in life 
  • Drown or fall 
  • Be in an alcohol-related car crash

“I know from being a mother myself how hard it is to talk to teenagers,” said Dr. Schneider. “But it’s much harder to face a child who has been seriously injured by alcohol, or who has injured someone else. MADD’s parent handbook will help parents start what could be a life-saving conversation with their child.”