Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Underage Drinking at All-Time High During Summer Months

Summer is coming, and with it comes a ton of risks for teens. One of the most significant risks is underage drinking, an issue that is always a problem but one that increases exponentially during the summer months.

In fact, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s NSDUH Report found that first-time use of illicit substances, including alcohol, peaks among teens in June and July. In most months, between 5,000 and 8,000 teens drink or use drugs for the first time, but in June and July that number leaps to 11,000.

Teen marijuana use, too, is an increased problem during the summer months. Between 3,000 and 4,000 teens abuse marijuana for the first time in any given month in the year except June and July when the average hovers around 4,800 a day.

How can you protect your son from teen substance abuse this summer?

Maintain Limits

Parents often use the summer months to increase the responsibility level they give their teenagers. There are lots of opportunities for them to be on their own, and often parental responsibility at work and home is no less simply because school is out. While this is an effective choice, it’s important for parents to remain actively involved to make sure that their teens are being honest and following through. This happens when you:

  • Make sure your son is where he says he’s going to be and with the people he said he would be with.
  • Follow up to make sure that your son accomplished the task (e.g., getting to work on time, taking a younger sibling to an extracurricular activity, grocery shopping).
  • Maintain sensible curfews at night.
  • Ensure that choices in entertainment are appropriately safe and/ or include adult chaperones when necessary.

Watch for Signs of Alcohol Abuse

Parents can’t be there all the time, and it’s possible for a resourceful teen to cover his bases well enough that parents may believe that he is one place doing one thing when he is actually somewhere else getting high with friends.

You can still achieve the goal of helping your son avoid the pitfalls of substance abuse by paying attention to any changes and identifying the signs of substance abuse early:

  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Acting “out of it” during conversations or having a hard time following through on commitments
  • Mood swings or angry outbursts
  • Changes in friends, activities or interests
  • Increased secrecy
  • Finding substances of any kind in his possession
  • Odd smells or stains on his clothes
  • Increase in physical illness (e.g., vomiting, headaches or other indications of hangover)

Act Immediately

If you think your son is drinking this summer, don’t minimize the situation. Before school starts up again is the best possible time to enroll him in a treatment program that can help him get back on track. Contact us at Muir Wood today to learn more about our teen-focused rehabilitation program here in Northern California.