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Montana Interagency Coordinating Council urges parents to talk with kids about the dangers of using alcohol

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

April is Alcohol Awareness Month and the Montana Interagency Coordinating Council on State Prevention Programs (ICC) is highlighting the critical public health issue of underage drinking in America and to provide healthy solutions.? Studies show that parents have a significant impact on their children’s decision to drink. When parents were asked who is the greatest influence in their teen’s lives, they placed themselves last.

When teens were asked who is the greatest influence in their lives, they placed their parents FIRST, before their peers!

“Be absolutely clear with your teens that you don’t want them using alcohol,” said Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) Director Richard Opper. “Don’t leave room for interpretation. Talk often about the dangers and results of alcohol abuse; they hear you. If you don’t talk about it, you are still saying something,”

Finding the right words to say, and when to say them can be tough. The following tips can help parents talk to their teens and keep alcohol out of their hands:
   • Encourage conversation.
   • Set the rules. Be clear about not using alcohol and avoiding risky situations.
   • Know where your kids are going, who they’ll be with and what they’ll be doing.
   • Get to know your kid’s friends and their parents.
   • Be there. Make sure your teen knows that if they need help, advice or a ride, they can call you at any time. Extend this offer and let your teen know that you are always available, and that they will not be judged or punished should they need your help.
   • Active listening paves the way for conversations about topics that concern you. If you hear something you don’t like, try not to respond with anger or react in a way that will cut off further discussion. If your child makes statements that challenge or shock you, turn those statements into a calm discussion of why your child thinks people use drugs or alcohol and whether the effect is worth the risk.
   • A quick text message such as “be safe, be smart”, “make the right choices”, and “Have fun 2nite! Remember 2 stay safe & don’t drink” or “use good judgment” let’s your teen know you care when you are not in sight.
   • Eat together as often as you can. Meals are a great opportunity to talk about the day’s events, to unwind, reinforce and bond. Studies show that kids whose families eat together at least five times a week are less likely to be involved with drugs or alcohol.

“Alcohol abuse is a public health issue that affects people and communities across our state,” said Vicki Turner, Director of the DPHHS Prevention Resource Center. “By working together we can help to reduce the abuse of alcohol among youth and keep alcohol out of their hands. With prom and graduation season upon us, now is a perfect time to have a conversation.”

For more information and resources for tips and strategies on talking with your teen, visit www.parentpower.mt.gov

Background: The ICC was created by legislative statute in 1993 to create and sustain a coordinated, comprehensive system of prevention services in the state of Montana. The ICC is comprised of ten Montana state agency directors, Children’s Trust Fund, the Lt. Governor -- an ex-officio member, and two persons appointed by the Governor who have experiences related to the private or nonprofit provision of prevention programs and services. Guiding the work of the Prevention Resource Center are five youth-based goals established by the Interagency Coordinating Council.

Alcohol Awareness Month, sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) since 1987, encourages local communities to take action to end underage drinking.

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