Best Friends Influence When Teenagers Have First Drink
Friends can be very influential, which can be either a detriment or an asset, depending on the type of influence. With Spring Break and Prom season just around the corner, parents should beware of those not-so-stellar influences on their children.
A national study by a University of Iowa-led team found that adolescents who get their first drink from a friend are more likely to drink sooner in life, which past studies show makes them more prone to abusing alcohol when they get older.
The basis for the study, published in the journal Pedriatics, is compelling: one-third of eighth graders in a 2011 study of 20,000 teenagers report they've tried alcohol. By 10th grade, more than half say they've had a first drink, and that percentage shoots to 70 percent by their senior year. The study was conducted by the University of Michigan and was funded by the National Institutes of Health.
So, what's driving kids to drink alcohol? The researchers looked at important predictors: disruptive behavior, a family history of alcohol dependence, a measure of poor social skills, and whether most best friends drink alcohol. The most important predictor was having a friend who drank and had access to alcohol. Adolescents whose best friend used alcohol were three times as likely to begin drinking themselves.
Family history doesn't necessarily drive the age of the first drink, according to the study, but access does. So what can we learn from this study? First of all, if you as a parent or grandparent drink alcohol, be sure it is not accessible to your adolescent or teen. Second, don't be afraid to ask questions. Find out who your child's best friends are. Ask where they are going when they make plans. Set a curfew. Third, let your child know about the risks of drinking alcohol. It is illegal for a teenager to have alcohol. Aside from the legal issues, alcoholic beverages dull the senses, slow reaction time, and over time, can cause severe medical problems. Do you really want that for your child? Fourth, set a good example by exhibiting healthy a lifestyle of healthy dietary choices. Fifth, let them know the importance of choosing friends carefully. Remember, bad company corrupts good character! Sixth, pray for your children. They face pressures that we, as adults, never had to face.
Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes Series Reminder
The next series is scheduled for February 26, 28, March 5, 7, and 12, at the Hopkins County Extension Office, located at 1200-B W. Houston Street. This series focuses on nutrition and self-care topics to help those with diabetes to better manage the disease. Past participants have commented on how much the information has helped. Although I can't guarantee the results in everyone, two participants lost 25 or more pounds which helped improve their blood sugar. A team of experts will help teach the sessions.
Two times are being offered on the given dates to accommodate schedules of participants. When you call to reserve a seat, please indicate if you want to attend the 1:30 p.m. or the 6:00 p.m. sessions. Cost for the series is $20 which covers materials, refreshments, door prizes, and samples. The fee is payable at the first session, but we ask that you call 903-885-3443 to reserve a seat in order for adequate preparations to be made.
Don't let a kind word go unsaid.
Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed.
Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Agent
1200-B W. Houston
P.O. Box 518
Sulphur Springs, TX 75483
903-885-3443 - phone
903-439-4909 - fax