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Talk Early, Talk Often: Trusted Adults Can Make a Difference in Teen Alcohol and Drug Use
Alcohol use by young people is extremely dangerous - both to themselves and to society, and is directly associated with traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose, unsafe sex and other problem behaviors, even for those who may never develop a dependence or addiction. Adolescence is a time of heightened risk-taking and as alcohol and drugs enter the picture, mentors are faced with a unique set of challenges. They can simply sit back and hope their Little will "get through it," or they can take an active role in learning about alcohol and drugs and helping their Little do the same.

It can be daunting to talk with your Little about drinking and drug use, but it is well worth the effort. In fact, research has shown that kids who have conversations with trusted adults and learn a lot about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50% less likely to use these substances than those who don't have such conversations. (NCADD)

You can use the tips below to get started discussing alcohol and drug use with your Little.

1. Show you disapprove of underage drinking.
Young people ages 10-18 say trusted adults are the leading influence on their decision to drink or not drink. So they really are listening, and it's important that you send a clear and strong message

2. Show you care about your Little's happiness and well-being.
Young people are more likely to listen when they know you're on their side. Try to reinforce why you don't want your Little to drink - not just because you say so, but because you want your Little to be happy and safe. They conversation will go a lot better if you're working with, and not against, your Little.

3. Show you're a good source of information about alcohol.
You want your Little to be making informed decisions about drinking, with reliable information about its dangers. You don't want your Little to be learning about alcohol from friends, the internet, or the media - you want to establish yourself as a trustworthy source of information.

4. Show you're paying attention and you'll notice if your Little drinks.
You want to show you're keeping an eye on your Little, because young people are more likely to drink if they think no one will notice. There are many subtle ways to do this without prying.

5. Build your Little's skills and strategies for avoiding underage drinking.
Even if your Little doesn't want to drink, peer pressure is a powerful thing. It could be tempting to drink just to avoid looking uncool. To prepare your Little to resist peer pressure, you'll need to build skills and practice them.

Keep it low-key. Don't worry, you don't have to get everything across in one talk. Many small talks are better.

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