Alcohol Advice for parents of Teenagers


In the UK, the minimum legal age for buying alcohol is 18, but few teenagers are prepared to wait that long for their first drink. Over the last few years, the way that young people drink has been changing. Although fewer children and young people are choosing to drink at all, those that do are drinking more, more often, and starting at a younger age.

As a parent/carer you are in a great position to talk to your child about alcohol.  If your child is curious about alcohol, talk to them about it openly and honestly - even younger children know about drinking and can talk about it. Try to explain both the positive and negative aspects of drinking. You’ve probably learned from your mistakes, so give them the benefit of your experience.

Try not to go overboard if your child comes home drunk. Getting angry may cause them to hide their drinking habits from you in future, leaving you powerless to influence their behaviour. Peer pressure is a common cause for teenage alcohol use. Make your child aware of the dangers and explore different ways for them to refuse a drink while still maintaining the respect of their peers.  Your child may want to experiment with alcohol because they see everyone around them doing it and want to feel more grown up.


•  There is no recommended safe drinking limit for young
people and if they excessively drink this could lead to health problems like alcohol poisoning, irregular periods, skin problems and weight gain
•  Young people who drink alcohol excessively could go on to develop memory loss, brain damage, liver disease and have an increased risk of heart disease and cancer
•  Young people who drink alcohol are more likely to get involved in crime and anti-social behaviour especially rowdy and aggressive behaviour
•  Young people who are drunk are more likely to be victims of crime or put themselves in danger as they’re less able to weigh up risks when they’re drunk
•  Young people who drink are more likely to have early sex, sex they regret or risky unprotected sex

Warning signs:

Some of these behaviours are normal, but several of the warning signs seen together may be an indication that your child is at risk. For help and advice contact one of the organisations listed below.

•  Mood changes: flare-ups of temper, irritability, and defensiveness.
•  School problems: poor attendance, low grades, and/or recent disciplinary action.
•  Rebelling against family rules.
•  Switching friends, along with a reluctance to have you get to know the new friends.
•  A “nothing matters” attitude: sloppy appearance, a lack of involvement in former interests, and general low energy.
•  Finding alcohol in your child’s room or backpack, or smelling alcohol on his or her breath.
•  Physical or mental problems: memory lapses, poor concentration, bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination, or slurred speech.

Where to get help:

ShADOWS: Shire Alcohol and Drug Outreach Workers Service 01258 488 486

The free national alcohol helpline, call in complete confidence, 24 hours a day to put you in touch with your local alcohol advice centre for help and advice.
0800 876 6776.

For further information:

Al-Anon: Offering support and understanding to the families and friends of problem drinkers, whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.      Confidential Helpline: 020 740 30 888

Parentline Plus
A national charity providing free, 24 hour help/ support. Visit  or call 0808 800 22 22

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