Summer Stress and Underage Drinking

Don’t Fall Victim to Summer Partying:

Creating Summer Balance and Transitioning for College

prepared by the Cardinal Families Health Action Network

Health Safety Alert: Many high school graduates fall victim to the summer before college. They see this as a time to…1. Release stress related to finishing high school 2. Catch up and connect with friends who might be heading off to a different school or 3. To start preparing for the college party lifestyle they believe is expected of them. What ever the reason many teens turn to drinking and other drugs during this time. Underage drinking is a serious problem that leads to many other serious consequences such as motor vehicle accidents, unwanted pregnancy, sexual assault, trouble with the law, death and addiction or dependance. Make sure your teens are not using alcohol or drugs as coping mechanism for stress.

**Parents be aware of how your child is spending their time and when certain behaviors can lead to poor coping mechanisms and sometimes even bigger problems.

Know the signs of underage drinking or substance abuse.

Follow these tips for keeping tabs on your teen:

  1. Know where they are and who they are with
  2. Set summer rules for family vs friend time (keep an active role and influence in their life)
  3. Model good adult behavior related to alcohol and also demonstrate other activities for fun and stress relief such as alcohol free parties or alternatives such as fun group outdoor activities like bike riding, hiking or picnicking.

Teen Summer After High School to College Transition Issues:

Teen Issue #1 They feel older than they are and they feel younger than they are. Teens struggle between wanting to be an adult and still needing their parent.

Solution: Give your teen space to grow up and go out with friends but also schedule time to be there for them. They need to feel your support more than they need to be told what to do. Give hugs and affirmations. Do things with them you usually do with your adult friends like schedule a lunch, hike or movie date.

Teen Issue #2 They go a little crazy with the freedom of summer knowing they are going on to college soon and will be away from parents.

Solution: Set ground rules for their time. Explain that they are still part of a family. They have friend time and family time. This parent or family time can be used to solidify what you have spent the last 18 years teaching them.

Teen Issue #3 They succumb to peer pressure. Peer pressure has been there all through high school but it’s about to get college sized.

Solution: Reinforce that you care about their safety. Have them set goals for the next 3 weeks, 3 months and 3 years and ask them how well they feel they can succeed if they are drinking or drugging.

Other contributing factors to stress at this time:

What might really be the issue? Your teen is likely struggling with the emotional stress of growing up and might be worried about the added responsibility that college brings.

The internet has no shortage of articles on how you should spend your time the summer between high school and college. But more than the top 5 or even 50 “things to do” you might want to consider learning how to balance your stress and emotions. Yes, getting a summer job or doing a college pre course might seem high on the priority list but taking the time to learn stress management and plan for the upcoming responsibility of college life would definitely be a good choice as well. It is also a great time to strength the teen-parent bond and is a win-win for everyone. The changes going on in your teen and yourself (and the relationship between you two) during the transition from high school to college is normal and to be expected.  Finding how to balance both your emotions and reduce any underlying stress is the key. Take a look at common teen and parent issues, look at warning signs of a problem vs normal behavior as roles change and see how to make the best out of this very important time.

Check out this article on letting go…

Don’t grab a drink try these “Stress Management Tips” instead:

  1. Take 10 deep breaths
  2. Go on a 10-20 minutes walk or run
  3. Watch a short comedy skit on YouTube

*Need more ideas… stretch for 15 minutes, make up a list of things you are grateful for, drink a glass of water, tell someone you love them, go to a yoga class, smile at the next person you see.