Have you talked to your children about alcohol use?

Published 9:44 am Thursday, April 10, 2014

Guest Column by Jenine Koziolek

I was looking at a book recently to purchase for our child.  The book was about truth and lies, and in the description it asks, “Can it really rain cats and dogs?” I don’t know how the book answers this, but it got me thinking about how information is presented to our children and is the information always factual.

Jenine Koziolek

Jenine Koziolek

Take for instance the frogs that croaked out words that spelled out a special type of beer or the beautiful horses that have a snowball fight, and this somehow wraps us into the special moment, only to have a type of beer announced. It is estimated that the typical American will see 100,000 beer commercials before he or she turns 18.  Within this exposure, our children are constantly challenged to decipher the messages about alcohol, not only with the ads they see on television, but in social media, friends, billboards, clothing paraphernalia, the list goes on.

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We know one thing for sure  — the odds are they are receiving the message about alcohol.

But is the message truth or a lie?  Is it the message you want them to have as a child faced with making perhaps one of biggest decisions of their lives — deciding if it is OK for them to partake in an alcoholic beverage?

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc., the organization that is in its 28th year of sponsoring Alcohol Awareness Month, the statistics support having these crucial conversations with our children to ensure they are receiving the facts and developing healthy refusal skills when they are faced with the decision.

Here are some facts to review:

• Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States.

• One in every 12 adults (17.6 million people) suffers from alcohol abuse or dependence.

• More than half of all adults have a family history of alcoholism or problem drinking.

• 100,000 persons die each year from alcohol-related causes: drinking and driving crashes, other accidents, falls, fires, alcohol-related homicides and suicides.

• More than 7 million children live in a household where at least one parent is dependent on or has abused alcohol.

• Alcohol is a primary factor in the four leading causes of death for young persons ages 10-21.

• Young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21.

• Alcohol-related problems cost America $224 billion in lost productivity, absenteeism, health care costs, crime and family-related problems .

Caring adults in a child’s life have the power of influence even more than the frogs or whatever catchy animal or item they put in the ad to lure you into the advertisement.  Have that conversation with a young person today!


Jenine Koziolek is an outreach specialist at Fountain Centers. Fountain Centers is a Mayo Clinic Health System program for substance abuse and addiction celebrating 40 years of providing services in southern Minnesota. Visit fountaincenters.org or call 800-533-1616 for more resources on how to have positive conversations with youth and to recognize problem use.