Holidays are a fun and festive time but they don’t have to include alcohol. In American culture alcohol is served at most social occasions. Many people use it to unwind after a long day at work. How many of us have heard someone say, “I need a drink?” We gladly offer alcohol to our guests at parties, weddings, sports events, barbecues, etc. to “celebrate.” The problem is our children are watching us and listening to what we say. Since the pandemic, more youth than ever are struggling with mental health challenges brought on by the stress and isolation of COVID-19. In response, many have turned to alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs to self-medicate. At this time of year, it is especially important to monitor the alcohol in your home and to remind your children that alcohol is illegal for anyone under 21.
During the holidays, make a point of offering non-alcoholic beverages to your guests as a way to counter the notion that alcohol is needed to have a “good time.” Many alcohol-free recipes are available online – just google “non-alcohol cocktails” and you will find many festive and tasty alternatives. During the holiday season the Blackstone Valley Prevention Coalition will publish non-alcohol recipes weekly on our Facebook page: http://blackstonevalleypreventioncoalition.com
Remember that not everyone drinks. Offer your guests a variety of drink choices. Don’t push alcohol on anyone. People have many reasons for not drinking during the holidays: religion, culture, sobriety, pregnancy, medication contraindications, health conditions, etc.
This time of year, when alcohol is ever present, is also a good time to talk to your child about alcohol use. According to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 10 percent of 12-year-old kids say they’ve tried alcohol. That number jumps to 50 percent by age 15. If you have a child under 12, the time is now to discuss your expectations with them. According to SAMHSA: 80 percent of kids believe their parents should have a say in whether they drink alcohol and parents have a significant influence on whether their kids drink. The SAMHSA “TALK THEY LISTEN” mobile application is available for download on the App Store, Google Play, and Windows Store. Learn more at http//:www.underagedrinking.samhsa.gov. SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.
The Pawtucket Prevention Coalition meets on the last Tuesday of the month in room 303 at Pawtucket City Hall.
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