U.S. Surgeon General Warns Maine Parents About Underage Drinking, Offers Tips

Rear Admiral Kenneth P. Moritsugu, MD, MPH was on the steps of the Maine State House yesterday warning parents about underage drinking. The Acting U.S. Surgeon General, along with First Lady Karen Baldacci and other community leaders, talked about how research has shown that alcohol can cause damage to the still developing adolescent brain. Research has also shown that those who start drinking before at the age of 15 or younger are 5 times more likely to develop addiction problems later in life.

Moritsugu had some telling stats about Maine adolescents and binge drinking.

“Here in Maine a recent report shows that within a two week period, 29% of 12th graders and 25% of eleventh graders said that they participated in binge drinking. When asked if they used alcohol within the last 30 days, 38% of Maine’s 10th graders said that they had. This simply needs to stop,” said Dr. Moritsugu. (See WCSH-6’s coverage of Moritsugu’s visit.)

Moritsugu stressed the importance of parents’ roles in curbing underage drinking, suggesting that parents act as role models and set limits on their adolescent children.

Moritsugu’s visit focused on a statewide campaign in Maine against underage drinking. The campaign is said to include television ads from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services as well as a helpful website for parents to get information about the effects of alcohol and talking with their teens.

Here are some suggestions from maineparents.net on how to begin talking with your teen:

  • Encourage conversation.
  • Encourage your child to talk about his or her interests.
  • Listen without interruption
  • Give your child a chance to teach you something new.
  • Your active listening paves the way for conversations about topics that concern you.
  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • Encourage your teen to tell you how he or she thinks and feels about the issue you’re discussing.
  • Avoid questions that have a simple “yes” or “no” answer.
  • Control your emotions.
  • If you hear something you don’t like, try not to respond with anger. Instead, take a few deep breaths and acknowledge your feelings in a constructive way.
  • Don’t lecture or try to “score points” by showing how he or she is wrong.
  • If you show respect for your teen’s viewpoint, he or she will be more likely to listen to and respect yours.

Visit MaineParents.net for more tips about talking to your child about alcohol, monitoring your teen, signs of alcohol abuse to watch for and other helpful information.

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