With a history of moonshine bootlegging, abstinence for religious reasons, and now a burgeoning brewery-tourism industry, alcohol—or the absence of it—is certainly part of WNC culture. Each person has their own experiences surrounding alcohol, from which they base their family policies regarding underage drinking. Let’s take a scientific approach to a few remarks we’ve heard from adults here in Transylvania County.
- “I drank as a teen, and I turned out fine.” That may be true. However, it doesn’t mean your child will have the same experience. A collaborative study out of the Research Triangle shows the earlier kids start drinking, the greater their chances are of becoming an alcoholic as an adult. You might have turned out fine, but are you OK with your child taking that risk?
- “If I allow my child to drink at home, they will develop a healthier relationship with alcohol before they go to college.” Although one study suggests that a few sips of alcohol at important family functions may protect kids from future binge drinking, most studies argue otherwise. An article from the National Institute of Health reports that adolescents who are allowed to drink at home tend to drink more heavily outside the home. These same adolescents also experience the steepest escalation in frequency and amount of alcohol consumption as teens.
- “In Europe, young adults drink more responsibly than in the U.S. because they start drinking younger.” This is a common argument we hear. A recent report debunks this myth. European youth drink more frequently and more heavily than their American counterparts.
- “My teen doesn’t listen to a word I say about anything.” True, teens have mastered the art of the disarming eye-roll. But, parents, take heart. Teens are listening to what you say, even if they don’t act like it. According to a report by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism, children who believe their parents would disapprove of drinking or drug use were less likely to do so. Eighty percent of teens say their parents were the leading influence on whether or not they drink. Despite the door slamming and sassy remarks, they listen.