Alcohol use and your kids

As a parent, you have a huge influence on your child’s decisions. It’s a fact—children whose parents talk to them about the risks of alcohol and other drugs are much less likely to use them.

Before you talk to your kids, it’s good to know some of the facts: 

  • Our brains do not finish developing until we’re in our mid-twenties, at the earliest.  Drinking alcohol during adolescence can damage the parts of the brain responsible for decision-making, self-control, memory and learning. 
  • People who start drinking before age 21 are more likely to become addicted to alcohol.
  • Drinking under the age of 21 is illegal.

Action Tips to Prevent Alcohol and Other Drug Use

Children in middle school and high school are at very different stages of their lives - so there are different ways to use your Parent Power to prevent them from abusing alcohol and other drugs. Choose the grade level of your child to learn more:

Watch for Warning Signs

If you notice some of these changes in your child, they may be using alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs:

  • A change in mood
  • Sleeping or eating more or less than usual
  • Less interest in school, friends, or activities
  • Quality of schoolwork is getting worse, or skipping school
  • Spending time with new friends you haven't met
  • Money or other objects missing from the house
  • Talking about parties where drugs and alcohol are being used
  • Rule breaking or acting angry

Some of these behaviors are normal for pre-teens and teens. But if you think your child may be using substances, get help early:

  • Request, download, or print free resources from the Massachusetts Clearinghouse.
  • For all ages: Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline — Information and outpatient or other treatment referrals (800) 327-5050 (toll-free; 7 days a week; multilingual); TTY: (888) 448-8321

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