There are many factors that may impact the likelihood that a teen will suffer from alcoholism. Environmental factors, such as the company a child keeps at school, as well as genetic factors, such as how predisposed the child is to alcoholism, will all play a large role in determining whether a teen will become addicted to alcohol.
Another factor that can pay a huge role in determining whether teens will base alcohol is the attitude of their parents and the degree to which alcohol is available in their home.
Parenting and Attitudes Toward Alcohol
The children of parents who set strong boundaries about alcohol use and with whom alcohol was discussed in an honest and straight-forward way around the age of ten and eleven are much less likely to engage in underage drinking as teenagers.
Children who discussed the dangers of alcohol with their parents as pre-teens are statistically less likely to drink at the ages of 16 or 17.
It has also been shown that children who have what could be described as a close and loving relationship with their parents were far less likely to use than children who are emotionally distant from their parents.
Children of parents who are emotionally abusive represent the group of individuals who are at the greatest risk for developing alcoholism in their teens.
Availability of Alcohol in the House
In households where alcohol is readily available, teens are far more likely to drink. Many parents may keep alcohol in their house without making any attempt to keep it out of sight from their teens and find that the alcohol is then taken and consumed by their children.
Often, in houses where alcohol is quite readily available, parents may be engaging in heavy drinking themselves. Parents who frequently drink in front of their children are far more likely to have teens who abuse alcohol and struggle with alcohol addiction.
There are a few reasons for this. Teens with parents who are alcoholics are at a greater genetic risk for alcoholism. They are also less likely to have been subject to the message tat alcohol is dangerous and should be avoided, particularly by minors.
One study by Columbia University found that fathers who have more than two drinks a day are 71% more likely to have teens who suffer from alcoholism. This could be in part because drinking frequently in front of children creates what some therapists call "passive influence," or showing through behavior that heavy alcohol use is acceptable.
Peers Who Parents Don't Know
When a parent is familiar with the other teens their child is associating with, they greatly decrease the odds that their child will abuse alcohol. Parents who take an active role in their child's academic and social life are less likely to have children who struggle with substance abuse for a number of reasons.
The first reason is that children of parents who are familiar with their social life tend to have a higher self image, which puts them at a much lower risk for abusing alcohol. Secondly, parents who know their children's friends have the chance to identify friends who may be a risk in introducing alcohol to their child and can take steps to ensure that their teen avoids these acquaintances before they begin to abuse alcohol.
The more involved and active a parent is in their child's life, starting from a very young age, the less likely it is that a parent will discover that their child is abusing alcohol or other illegal drugs. Playing an active role can truly make all the difference.