Let’s say it’s Friday night after a football game and you really want to go over to a friend’s house with all your friends. Your parents let you go but not for long; you have a ball tournament in the morning. They say that they will be over to pick you up from your friend’s house in about an hour or two. So, you and your friends are sitting outside, and someone goes to the fridge in the garage and brings back a beer or other alcoholic beverage for everyone. Everyone likes the idea except for you. You chose not to speak up. They start passing the drinks around. Do you take one and pretend to drink it? Or do you say, “No thanks?” What would you do in this situation?
As a teenager, the pressure to “fit in” has always been real; therefore, peer pressure is still very problematic today. Maybe, like in this scenario, all your friends are drinking and having a good time, and you feel that you must drink to have fun with them. As you grow up, being exposed to alcohol at some point or another is inevitable. However, there are risks involved for underage drinkers and for some, being exposed can escalate to a serious problem very quickly. It is important for teens to be informed about the dangers of alcohol and know how to make the right choices early in life. As for making the right choices about underage drinking, being prepared is key; here are a few ways to say no:
- Most importantly, be firm in your decision not to drink underage. You have your own reasons; be true to them. Know when to just say no and walk away. It doesn’t have to be a bigger deal than what you make it.
- If you’re going to a party where you know alcohol will be involved, bring a drink or cup from home with a non-alcoholic beverage. People will be less likely to offer you a drink if they see that you already have one.
- If you’re on a sports team or other activity, say that you’re not drinking because you want to perform your best in your upcoming games. Hangovers not feeling great from drinking can prevent you from doing your best.
- Offer to drive home; it is one of the safer options. You avoid drinking and get to keep your friends off the roads. And, you might inspire others to choose not to drink as well.
- Don’t hesitate to pick friends who don’t engage in risky behaviors such as drinking underage. If your buds don’t understand that you don’t want to drink, surround yourself with people that do understand; this way, you’ll never have to worry about being put in an uncomfortable situation.
If you’d like to learn more about underage drinking, strategies for staying out of trouble as a teen, or how to talk to your children about alcohol use, go to EarlyChoices.org or call us at 229.723.5122.
Early Choices, a collective of initiatives, was formed in 2012 through ECLFT and Family Connection (FACES)to address the specific needs, issues and concerns or residents of Early County.