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Matter of health: Talking to your children about alcohol.

Byline: Metro Creative Content

Many people consume alcohol when attending summer parties, holiday gatherings or weddings. Children in attendance may see adults drinking and having a good time and wonder why alcohol is off-limits to them.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says that parents can have a major impact on their children's drinking habits by influencing children's values and decisions about drinking. Alcohol can affect both the body and the mind, and parents who want their kids to approach alcohol responsibly when they are of legal drinking age can teach their youngsters about the ways alcohol can influence their health.

The NIAA states that alcohol is used by more young people than tobacco or illicit drugs. A person who begins drinking as a young teen is four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than someone who waits until adulthood to try a drink.

Alcohol and its effects

Many kids and their parents are not overly concerned about alcohol, which does not carry the same stigma as illegal drugs. When consumed in small amounts, alcohol may not seem very dangerous, but even small quantities can affect the body.

Alcohol is a depressant, which slows down the body and makes a person feel relaxed. With more alcohol, movements become clumsy and uncoordinated. It also interferes with decision-making abilities and could lead to risky behavior. As alcohol slows reaction time, driving under the influence can be deadly.

The liver is responsible for filtering alcohol out of the blood. With greater quantities of alcohol, it can take longer for the liver to do its job. Over time, alcohol consumption can damage the liver.

Get the facts

Some families have misinformed views about alcohol. Beer or wine may be considered "safer" than hard liquor, but each has the same effect on the body. It can take anywhere from two to three hours for a single drink to leave a person's system and the process cannot be sped up.

Young people have smaller bodies, and alcohol can affect them differently. It may only take a small amount of alcohol to cause considerable impairment. Plus, young bodies are still developing, and alcohol may have an effect on a maturing brain, leading to long-lasting intellectual effects.

People tend to not realize how much alcohol is affecting them. Overconsumption of alcohol can lead to risky and potentially dangerous behavior.

Parents concerned about their children and their consumption of alcohol can present the facts and urge kids to wait until they are adults before trying alcohol.

Waiting until adulthood can minimize some of the health implications of drinking early.

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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Apr 11, 2018
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