Lee's Summit R-7 School District
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Does teaching my teen to drink help them learn to drink responsibly?

Allowing your teenager to drink alcohol with you may actually backfire as an approach to teaching responsible drinking, according to a study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. It was determined that the more a teenager drinks at home with his or her family, the more he or she drinks outside of the home.

There are many laws in place that impose severe punishments for adults who allow teens to drink in their home, even if the adult is not there. It is a crime to give alcohol to a minor.

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What is substance abuse?

Teenagers can experiment with a variety of drugs, both legal and illegal. Legally available drugs can include alcohol, inhalants (fumes from glues, aerosols and solvents), prescription medications, and over-the-counter cough, cold, sleep and diet medications. The most commonly used illegal drugs are marijuana (also known as pot or weed), stimulants (cocaine, crack and speed), LSD, PCP, opiates, heroin and Ecstasy. The use of illegal drugs is increasing, especially among young teens. In Johnson County, the average age of first marijuana and alcohol use is 14 years old (Communities that Care Survey, 2010).

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What is healthy decision making?

Healthy decision making is a planned process of selecting from two or more possible options in order to solve a problem or set a goal. Healthy decision making allows students to feel empowered, realize their goals and change unhealthy habits.
While teenagers may exhibit problem solving abilities that are comparable to adults, their brains are not as developed in the areas of regulating impulsivity and stress. This means teen decision making skills are much less mature than adults during times of high stress and arousal. Given that adolescence is a time of great change and development, stress in their lives is inherent.
The ability of teenagers to make healthy decisions often plays a role in risk-taking behavior. Because adolescents are more likely to engage in risk-taking behavior than adults (due to their brain development and the social environment of adolescence) the ability to develop healthy decision making habits during this time becomes very important.

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