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Talking with your Kids about Alcohol

Talking with your kids about Alcohol

Have conversations with your child about alcohol and its effects on health – the earlier the better.

Alcohol consumption is heavily ingrained in our culture, and chances are your teen has already tried a beer, or something stronger. Even though you might prefer they wait until they’re older to start the conversation, now is the time to discuss their alcohol use with them, calmly and in an informed way.

Many young people don’t really understand the potential risks involved with alcohol use at a young age. As a parent, caregiver or supportive adult, being informed about alcohol and its effects on youth can help you to initiate early, open and honest conversations with your pre-teens and teens.

Drinking less is better. We now know that even a small amount of alcohol
can be damaging to health.
Science is evolving, and the recommendations about alcohol use need to change.
Research shows that no amount or kind of alcohol is good for your health.
It doesn’t matter what kind of alcohol it is—wine, beer, cider or spirits.
Drinking alcohol, even a small amount, is damaging to everyone,
regardless of age, sex, gender, ethnicity, tolerance for alcohol or lifestyle.
That’s why if you drink, it’s better to drink less.
Alcohol consumption per week
Drinking alcohol has negative consequences. The more alcohol you
drink per week, the more the consequences add up. 
Drinking less benfits you and others. It reduces your risk
of injury and violence, and many health problems that can
shorten life.
Set a weekly drinking target. If you’re going to drink,
make sure you don’t exceed 2 drinks on any day.
A standard drink means:
Aim to drink less
Here is a good way to do it
No risk  0 drinks per week
Not drinking has benefits, such as better health, and better sleep.
Moderate risk
3 to 6 standard drinks per week
Your risk of developing several different types of cancer,
including breast and colon cancer, increases.
Increasingly high risk
7 or more standard drinks per week
Your risk of heart disease or stroke increases.
Each additional standard drink
Radically increases the risk of these alcohol-related

Drinking alcohol has negative consequences. The more alcohol you
drink per week, the more the consequences add up.
341 ml (12 oz) of beer or Cooler, cider, ready-to-drink
5% alcohol

43 ml (1.5 oz) of spirits
40% alcohol (whisky, vodka, gin, etc.)

142 ml (5 oz) of wine
12% alcohol

During pregnancy, none is the only
safe option.

At 1 to 2 standard drinks per week
You will likely avoid alcohol-related consequences for yourself and others.

Good to know
You can reduce your drinking in steps! Every drink counts:
any reduction in alcohol use has benefits

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction has released Canada’s Guidance for Alcohol and Health with new guidelines that replace Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines.

This updated guide helps people understand the health risk levels of drinking – the more alcohol consumed, the greater the risk of negative health issues like several types of cancer, cardiovascular and liver disease occurring, along with a greater likelihood of violence. As the amount of alcohol increases, so do the potential health risks.

Signs to watch for

When it comes to youth, the risk of these negative health outcomes is much greater, and they should be encouraged to delay alcohol use for as long as possible. Underage use of alcohol can lead to these health risks, and other negative consequences, including risky behaviours, over-consumption, and binge-drinking.

Use the new guidelines to start a conversation with your teen. Begin conversations that are open without putting your kids in the hot seat.

Looking for some conversation starters? Try these.

  • Have you heard about the new alcohol and health guidelines – what do you think about them?
  • Now that you know that over two drinks per week is moderate to high risk, what do you think about that amount?
  • Do you know anyone who drinks a lot of alcohol?  
  • Have you ever been offered a drink like beer or a cooler? How did it make you feel?
  • Does drinking help you feel more relaxed or funnier when you’re out with friends?
  • I started to drink when I was a teen – so I understand that it might be something you want to do. But back then, we didn’t understand the health risks of alcohol – Now that I know, I’m going to take more care of my health – what about you?
  • Have you ever felt the urge to just keep on drinking? What was happening? Have you ever seen someone do that?
  • Do you know what alcohol poisoning looks or feels like? What would you do if a friend of yours drank so much they passed out?
  • Do you know of anyone who has been hurt or taken advantage of while they’ve been drunk?
  • I’m concerned for your health if you consume alcohol, but if you make the choice to drink, here are my expectations:  
    • Always have a plan to get home safely.
    • Don’t ever drive and drive, don’t get into a car with someone you think or know has been drinking – and try and stay with a friend.
    • If you ever feel get into a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable or scared, text me our (predetermined) family code and I’ll pick you up.

Having balanced conversations with your child about alcohol whether they are of legal age or not, can have a positive impact on the choices young people make as they grow into adulthood, and help them to make responsible decisions about its use.

Looking for more information on Alcohol as well as more helpful suggestions on how to begin these important conversations with your child? Download the DFK Youth and Alcohol PDF here.

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