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Adolescence is a minefield of social and emotional exploration. It’s where we test boundaries and learn through example. And that example, more often than not, is learned through the actions of those we are surrounded by the most – our peers.

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that four out of every five individuals older than 12 have experimented with alcohol; and numerous studies have shown that the biggest factor in whether a teen uses alcohol is the pressure (or lack thereof) that they get from their friends. Between the direct peer pressure of other kids encouraging them to drink, and the indirect peer pressure of not wanting to seem uncool around those who do drink, teenagers face a constant temptation to get involved with alcohol.

The majority of teens don’t fully consider the risks taken when they drink, but alcohol-related deaths and accidents among teens are far too prevalent to ignore. Alcohol can also produce dangerous disinhibition in the adolescent brain, which is already susceptible to risk-taking and impaired judgement skills based on its immature development.

It’s easy for parents to overlook their teen’s drinking problem, especially given today’s busy lifestyles and independence given to teenagers. It’s important to keep an eye out for warning signs, like fighting, stealing, skipping school, and bad grades – as they may be an indication of a bigger problem, such as underage drinking. It’s also important for parents to talk to their children early and often about alcohol and peer pressure.

Believe it or not, teens do listen to you. Even though friends have a strong influence, this doesn’t negate your influence as a parent. Being understanding and nonjudgmental will go a long way towards maintaining open communication, even as teens gain independence.

If you think your teen may have a problem with alcohol, call the admissions team at Serenity Acres today to speak with someone who can guide you to the right course of action.