HOUSTON—For so many high school students it is homecoming season. That means dances, parties and possibly alcohol.
The festivities open the doors for parents needing to have a discussion with their kids about the consequences of alcohol, especially since young people in the United States use and abuse alcohol more than any other drug, including tobacco.
Kathie Meyer Sullivan knows about the consequences all too well. Pictures are all she has left of her daughter, Taylor.
“She got together with a bunch of friends of hers and ended up drinking for the night,” Sullivan said.
Taylor was drunk and wandered away from her friends. Three days later she was found dead, face down in a couple feet of water.
Overall about 5,000 kids die each year because of underage drinking. Fifty-two percent of teens have consumed alcohol by the eighth grade, and a study shows out of the 20 million alcoholics in America, more than half started drinking as teens.
Licensed psychologist Deborah Day says it is important kids know the consequences.
“They’re not prepared for the impact of drugs and alcohol on their systems,” Day said.
Talking to teens about underage drinking can be tricky. The Mayo Clinic recommends sharing. Parents should share that anyone can develop a drinking problem, including teens.
Parents should also debunk myths. While teens may think drinking will make them popular and give them a high, let them know it’s a depressant that can lead to sadness and anger.
Be prepared to answer tough questions about your own drinking habits. Consider sharing a story about a negative consequence your drinking caused.
Sullivan has shared her daughter’s deadly story with kids in more than 100 schools.
“I let them know, Taylor didn’t die of a brain tumor. She died because of poor choices surrounding alcohol,” she said.