Getting real with your young adult about binge drinking

Green beer, pub crawls, and parties have become hallmark traditions associated with Saint Patrick’s Day. And while the holiday can be an enjoyable time for many if celebrated responsibly, it can also be quite a risky time when alcohol takes center stage in the festivities—such as with binge drinking. Binge drinking is considered drinking four or more drinks in one sitting for women and five or more drinks at one time for men, and according to a 2016 national survey on drug use and health about two out of every five young adults (ages 18 - 25) binge drink.

During a time when the consumption of beer and other alcohol may be more prominent—such as on Saint Patrick’s Day—ensuring our adult children drink responsibly can be a concern for some parents. However, it’s not always easy to know how best to speak to our children about such a difficult topic when peer pressure of friends may be high. Here’s some tips on how to get the discussion going successfully:

Make it a conversation.
Find a comfortable, natural place to start the conversation and focus on talking with your child instead of talking at them. They will be more likely to engage if they feel as if they are not being talked down to by an adult. Start by listening and be a support if they have concerns. In addition, come from a place of caring. Consider calmly expressing your concerns in a supportive manner.

Plan through scenarios.
It can be helpful to talk through potential scenarios of what could happen and best approaches for handling difficult situations, such as being offered a ride from a driver who has been drinking. Ask them what they might do and offer suggestions if they feel stuck on how best to respond. Thinking ahead and having plans in place can go a long way in keeping your young adult safe.

Review the risks.
Unfortunately, consequences often follow bad decisions. Remind your child of real dangers such as alcohol poisoning, the risk of sexual assault, and drunk driving. In addition, in today’s digital world, it can be a good idea to discuss what should and should not get posted on social media, and that the posting of inappropriate material can potentially influence employment status or college acceptance.

By helping your young adult plan ahead and feel prepared, you not only support them in having a fun and safe time, but you also may provide more peace of mind for yourself.

Additional local resources for drinking and substance abuse can be found on our free Find Help resource page.