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Reasons your teen may be drinking, and what to do about it

Underage drinking is among the top concerns parents have with their teenage children, along with smoking and drug use. Moms and dads try to keep their child from drinking by setting curfews, making threats of punishment and explaining the risks of drinking with their kids, but according to statistics, more than 61 percent of high school seniors still drink.

This could be due, at least in part, to the fact that underage drinking is typically about more than drinking. Too often, parents mistake behaviors like underage drinking as nothing more than an act of defiance or rebellion. While this may certainly be the case for some, there can very well be other reasons why a teenager is drinking. 

Emotional motivations to drink

Some young people drink to cope with emotional problems. This can include depression, anxiety, loneliness, boredom and fears of failure. For some, drinking is a way to self-medicate.

Social motivations to drink

Teenagers can be consumed by trying to fit in, impress others and test boundaries. These social motivations are very powerful, and kids who want to fit in, be popular and feel confident may engage in drinking.

What parents can do

With all this in mind, it can be a good idea for parents to consider resources like counseling, rehabilitation and other ways to address the underlying issues that may be driving a teen to drink.

This is not to say that parents or teens should ignore the serious penalties that come with underage drinking. It is against the law, and teens can face criminal consequences for unlawful drinking. 

However, taking a more comprehensive approach to teenage drinking can help teens deal with their problems. It can also send a message to the courts that a teen and his or her parents are taking the situation seriously. Under these circumstances, it can be possible for a young person to avoid the harshest penalties and protect his or her future. If your child is in trouble for underage drinking, it can be a good idea to talk to an attorney about your legal options and what you can do to ensure your child's future is not ruined by a youthful mistake.

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