Parents: How to Prepare for Prom

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It’s warming up (unless you’re in Chicago), finals are looming, bank statements are lowering, meaning one thing for high schoolers and their parents: prom.

For many, prom marks the end of high school and a transition into uncharted territory. Students may be leaving home for college, entering the workforce full-time, or struggling to figure out their next step, all of which may increase susceptibility to peer pressure and substance use. Studies show more than 75 percent of underage drinkers reported drinking in a group. And although adolescents and young adults drink less often than adults, they tend to binge drink, leading to consequences like visits to the emergency room or even death.

Gloom and doom aside, prom season can be fun; it can also an opportunity to start a conversation with your teens about substance use. Two of our Gateway experts, Aurora and Joliet’s Jim Scarpace and Lake County’s Karen Wolownik-Albert, share their tips for a safe prom:

Allow them to ask questions and be open to hearing their experiences with peers and even with drinking and using drugs. Help them understand the dangers and risks associated with using drugs and drinking, like the increased likelihood of unsafe sexual behaviors or victimization

  • Prepare them for what they may be exposed to on prom night.

Talk to your teen about the dangers of binge drinking and drunk driving or riding with an intoxicated driver. About a third of alcohol-related traffic deaths involving teens occur between April and June, the most popular months for prom. Try practicing their responses to different scenarios.

  • Establish a back-up plan.

Let your teen know they can call you immediately, regardless of the time or situation, and you will be willing to come get them. Develop a code word. Let them know they can text you instead of calling, if that is easier for them.

  • Figure out a structured and supervised post-prom event.

If this is not possible, be sure to meet or speak to the parents at any home where your teen may be hanging out after prom.

  • Do not provide alcohol to teenagers in your home.

Although it may seem safe, social hosting laws have established significant legal consequences for adults who allow alcohol or drug use in their home.

If your teen is struggling with substance use, be sure to express your support in overcoming the problem with them and reach out to professional resources and treatment.

If you’re a parent and have other questions about your children’s substance use or mental health, please contact us at Marketing@GatewayFoundation.org and we will work with our experts to answer them.

Lurie Children’s Hospital Cautions Parents of the Dangers of Teen Binge Drinking at Lollapalooza

iStock_46778544_SMALL.jpgThis weekend kicks off the annual music festival in ChicagoLollapalooza. While popular for its music, it is also a popular event for teen drinking. Nearly 100 teenagers were treated for alcohol poisoning during this event last year.

At Lurie Children’s Hospital, doctors and nurses push a young woman on a stretcher down a hall as she demonstrates expected behavior from a typical teenage patient who is intoxicated: mumbling and crying, as well as vomiting and dehydration. It may be a common sight starting on July 28 when Lollapalooza comes to town.

“We have to staff the ER with higher numbers. We need a lot more acute care for these children,” says Dr. Nina Arfieri.

The patient, Gabi Sel, is actually a hospital intern who is helping with the drill so that staff can be better prepared for when real patients come. And they will come; according to a hospital study, in 2015 Lollapalooza weekend saw hospitals receiving more intoxicated patients than the next three busiest weekends of the year combined.

Nurses are going over the protocol for handling those patients. For her part, Gabi is glad this is only a drill.

“Being in this bed is very scary and it feels very real when you’re in it, even if it’s just a scene,” she says.

The study finds that the majority of patients are 16 to 18 years old, female and from the suburbs. But the authors of the study say they’re not trying to discourage people from going to Lollapalooza.

“I think it’s important for kids to go out and enjoy music, and get outside, but I think there’s a safe way to do it, and I think we can do this without having them risk their lives,” says Dr. Arfieri.

The news isn’t all bad though: the study found the number of teenagers going to the emergency room for intoxication dropped significantly in 2015 compared to 2014. Doctors are hoping that trend continues.

TALKING TO TEENS ABOUT DRINKING AND DRUG USE

In honor of “Purposeful Parenting Month” in July, and with Chicago’s Lollapalooza right around the corner, take a moment to talk to your teen about the dangers of drinking and drug use. At Gateway, we know starting this conversation isn’t always easy. Use the Parent Tools Below to help you start the conversation about binge drinking and teen drug use.

PARENT TOOLS FROM GATEWAY ALCOHOL AND DRUG TREATMENT CENTERS:

Still have questions? Gateway has answers. Learn more about teen substance abuse by downloading our free resource guide at Recovergateway.org/teens or call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

 

Attention Parents: Help Prevent Underage Drinking This Summer

Warning: Parents with Teens be Extra Vigilant in June and July

The Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) latest report on underage drinking shows that more than one-quarter of American youth engage in underage drinking.

With summer here and kids out of school, teens may have more unsupervised time at home if both mom and dad are at work. Could that be one of the reasons why more teenagers start drinking and smoking cigarettes and marijuana in June and July than in any other months? During each of these summer months, more than 11,000 teens on average use alcohol for the first time, 5,000 start smoking cigarettes and 4,500 try marijuana, according to the 2012 SAMHSA report.

Furthermore, a another SAMHSA report revealed that overall from 2002 to 2011 the percentage of adolescents receiving substance abuse prevention messages in the past year from media fell significantly from 83% in 2002 to 75% in 2011. School-based prevention messaging also dropped from 79% in 2002 to 74% in 2011. The report also finds that roughly 40% of adolescents did not talk with their parents in the past year about the dangers of substance use.

Help for Tackling Underage Drinking

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To counter these concerning trends, the “Talk. They Hear You.” public service effort equips parents and caregivers with the information they need to start talking with children as young as 9 years old about the dangers of alcohol. The campaign’s TV, radio, and print public service announcements (PSAs) in English and Spanish feature parents “seizing the moment” to talk with their children about alcohol while preparing dinner or doing chores together. By modeling behaviors in these PSAs, parents can discover the many “natural” opportunities for initiating the conversation about alcohol with their children.

For more information about how to talk to your teens about the risks associated with drinking and drug abuse, get a free “What’s a Parent to Do?” toolkit today!  Available at: RecoverGateway.org/Toolkit

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