Teen Parties: A Family Survival Guide

  • PRN logo Every season has its own reasons to celebrate from homecoming to New Year’s Eve to prom, high school graduation, and then summer vacation. These occasions can often become a reason to “party” with alcohol and other drugs. Many teens view drinking at these events as a “rite of passage” and they are pressured by peers to drink.    It takes a combined effort of parents, schools, the community, law enforcement, and students to make sure these events stay alcohol-free & safe. We encourage you to join us in promoting healthy behaviors and safe gatherings by discussing these issues with your teen.  We are confident that you share our concern for the safety and well-being of the youth in our community. 


    1.  DO NOT allow alcohol or other drugs to be present at home parties, in cars or other places teens gather.

    2.  DO provide adequate adult supervision at home gatherings

    3.  DO encourage family conversation around specific & places where your teen will be

    4.  DO call other parents to double-check the plans and be assured that adults will be present and awake at any parties. Additionally, confirm with hosting parents that no drugs or alcohol will be allowed. 


    Parents do make a difference! Research shows that positive parenting has more influence over teens’ decision-making than their friends, TV, celebrities, music, and social media. Take an active role in teaching your children about responsibility. Set clear expectations along with a family rule of no alcohol until age 21. Explain the reasons behind your expectations and encourage your teens to talk about any of their concerns. Discuss and agree upon consequences in advance with your teens. Be consistent and enforce the set consequences. And continue the conversation!!    Click here to read about six research-based parenting practices that will help you with these discussions.  


    Click here for a complete list of party planning tips. Remember that with Facebook and other forms of social media, parties can quickly get out of control. Don’t forget to check bags and watch for teens trying to sneak items in through basement windows, etc. This sheet has many thoughtful talking-points. 


    Discuss with your teens how a fun celebration can turn tragic very quickly when alcohol is introduced. The use of alcohol is frequently linked with other risky and potentially destructive behaviors such as bullying and dating violence, unintentional injuries from falls or drowning, alcohol-related car accidents, and alcohol overdose. Encourage your teen to discuss with their friends or date about taking a pledge to keep each other safe and to make healthy decisions when celebrating. Also, remind your teens that under no circumstance should they ride in a car with someone who has been drinking or using drugs. Click here to see a sample prom pledge. 


    And remember……It’s not worth it! Being a “cool parent” could cost you….your home, car, boat, college & retirement savings. Purchase, provide, or pour alcohol for underage drinkers and if they or others are injured or die in an accident they cause or property is damaged, you can be sued! Your homeowners insurance does not cover liability when the activity is illegal. 


    The teenage brain responds to and is affected by alcohol differently than the adult brain. Compared to the adult brain, the teen brain is over-sensitive to damage from alcohol and under-sensitive to the warning signs of intoxication which creates a very risky “over-under” combination. Click here to read an article from Dr. David Walsh about alcohol’s effects on the teenage brain. Federal research shows that the age group exhibiting the highest rate of alcohol dependence is the ages of 18-20 which is under the legal drinking age! Teenagers who experiment with alcohol before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol dependent versus those who wait to drink alcohol until age 21. Alcohol consumption negatively affects brain development during these formative years. That is why it is critically important to prevent underage drinking.  


    In the fall of 2015, the Wisconsin Department of Justice and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel launched a public awareness campaign called “Dose of Reality”to address the growing concerns about prescription drug abuse. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury deaths in Wisconsin. In recent years, overdoses from misuse of prescription drugs has increased 260% among Wisconsin youth ages 12-25. Prescription painkillers are described as the “gateway drugs” to other harmful substances, such as heroin.   More teens abuse prescription drugs than any other illicit drug except marijuana. Visit http://doseofrealitywi.gov/ for parent resources and information on prescription drug abuse. Click here for a list of permanent prescription drug disposal sites and Waukesha County community resources for drug and alcohol abuse. The Partnership for Drug-free Kids put together an e-book titled “Heroin, Fentanyl & Other Opioids: A Comprehensive Resource for Families” that you can access by clicking here.

    Adolescent usage of electronic vaporizers knows an e cigarettes, vapes, vape pens and Juuls, has been on the increase in recent years.  Results from the national study “Monitoring the Future” and “Youth Risk Behavior Survey” found that usage of electronic vapor products now exceeds other tobacco products such as smoking traditional cigarettes for this age group.   Furthermore, a popular type of e-cigarette currently on the rise is a Juul.  Juuls or Juuling, is a type of electronic vapor device that is designed in a discreet manner, resembling the size and look of a USB flash drive. Juul pods have a high concentration of nicotine.  One pod consumed is the approximate equivalent to one pack of cigarettes or 200 puffs. Usage of these products creates nicotine exposure for adolescents during a critical period of brain development, increasing the risk of addiction.  Additionally, e-cigarette products can be used to deliver other drugs such as distilled THC from marijuana. Vaping THC does not produce the telltale smell that emerges when smoking marijuana through a joint, blunt, or pipe. This way teens can use marijuana without being detected.  When people vape rather smoke marijuana, they tend to consume even higher concentrations of THC, which means greater exposure to the drug's mind altering and addictive ingredient. For more information visit the article “5 Things Parents Should Know about e-cigarettes for marijuana” at https://yourteenmag.com/drugs-alcohol/using-e-cigarettes-for-marijuana.  Also, click here for a parents tip booklet on e-cigarettes & vaping from the CDC and get all the fact at https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/getthefacts.html.


    “Wake Up Call” is a unique life-size exhibit of a teen’s bedroom with more than 20 “red flags” that can signal drug or alcohol use and is presented by Your Choice.  Free public tours will be offered the first and third Wednesday of each month.  The exhibit is located in the Hartland Fire Department’s Survive Alive House at 150 Lawn Street, Hartland   The goal is to educate parents and other adults who are influential in the lives of youth so they know what seemingly innocent items can actually be an indication of substance abuse.  The “Wake Up Call” bedroom identifies spots where teens may hide drugs, household items that can be used as drug paraphernalia and ways teens try to cover up drug and alcohol use.  Click here for exhibit times or visit www.yourchoice-live.org for additional information. Click here to view a power point of these important signals to watch for in your home.  


    If you need further help with starting the conversation with your teens or advising them on how to cope with peer pressure, see the list of resources below. Also the KM guidance staff is here to help! KMHS counselor, Alissa Darin, has a background in AODA and is available to speak to any parents and teens needing information about alcohol or drug issues. Contact her at darina@kmsd.edu or 262-968-6273 X 4027.


    Additional Resources Include:

    www.madd.org/powerofparents  - Free digital download of the parent handbook “Power of Parents” and other useful information about topics concerning underage drinking.

    www.madd.org/underage-drinking/power-of-youth  - Information geared for teens & teen booklet

    http://www2.erie.gov/clerk/sites/www2.erie.gov.clerk/files/uploads/PromPledge.pdf  - Prom Pledge

    www.drugfree.org  - Partnership for drug free kids – excellent parent resources

    www.parentfurther.com/high-risk-behaviors   - Including alcohol and drugs

    www.abovetheinfluence.com  – Resources for teens to rise above peer pressure of all kinds

    http://teens.drugabuse.gov   - The science behind drug abuse & addiction for teens

    www.niaaa.nih.gov   - National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

    www.thecoolspot.gov   - Educational website on alcohol and peer pressure for youth ages 11-13

    www.yourchoice-live.org  – Resources, monthly e-newsletter, Detour classes located in Hartland

    www.addictionresourcecouncilwaukeshawi.org  – List of resources and programs in Waukesha County including a 24 hour helpline at 262-524-7920