Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Category: alcohol and drugs (page 1 of 2)

Should you let your teenage son try beer?




A few nights ago, my 16-year-old son came home from his summer job late at night and found my older son’s friend at our home drinking beer. I heard my son asked the older boy to let him try his beer. “It’s almost midnight. You don’t need to drink beer right now,” I told him.

At that moment, I was torn.

If I made a big deal about my son trying beer, I felt like he would want to do it even more, and even be sneaky about it. But at the same time, I didn’t want to encourage it. So I made it about the time of night, rather than the bigger issue of trying beer.

To be honest, I really don’t know what to say to teenagers about alcohol. We know that most teenagers will NOT wait until they are 21 to drink.  Personally, I think the drinking age should be 18 because most teens are drinking at that age  anyway.

I love wine and have offered my kids to try different types of wine when I am drinking it. I don’t want alcohol to seem like forbidden fruit. I  have found it is  easy to have a conversation about drinking and driving with teenagers than not drinking at all. I have told my kids to call me, or a friend or Uber if they have been drinking, particularly my two kids now in college. I have also had the conversation about the dangers of a fake ID and how police in some cities give out tickets for Minors in Possession of alcohol. (MIPs)

But what do you say to a teenager in high school, which is a time when parties usually involve alcohol? I have never really wanted to make a big deal to my sons about drinking beer because I know for most teenage boys it is going to happen.

I find when parents forbid their teens to drink or try alcohol, their kids often become sneaky about it. I have seen that firsthand. When my older son was still in high school, his friend slept over. During the night, they both got into my husband’s  beer. The next morning when his mother came to pick him up, she proceeded to tell me that her son doesn’t drink and is still a “good” kid and she plans to keep him that way. I felt awful.

When I talked with my son about it, he insisted it was his friend who repeatedly insisted they drink the beer. Again, I tried not to make a big deal about it because my son did tell me what had happened and said he wanted to try beer in a situation in which he didn’t have to drive and  it wasn’t socially awkward. He never really drank again during high school.

However, I know some parents don’t care at all if their teens drink in high school and are happy their kids are invited to the cool parties with the cool crowd that drinks.

Clearly, teenage drinking is an area where parents struggle – and differ widely on their approach. I am wondering what kind of conversations you have had with your teens. Do you forbid underage drinking? Do you accept that it’s going to happen and set some guidelines? I  would love to hear how other parents handle teenage drinking.



Why teens are taking prescription medicine

I am sharing with our readers an article that was published  in my son, Matthew’s high school newspaper,  The Eagle Eye.

I was shocked but then again I wasn’t when I read this well-written article about prescription medicati by a junior at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High in Coral Springs, Florida. I am very familiar with Adderall because my daughter Olivia is on it for her ADD. I recall reminding her to take it every day and cautioned her about the side effects that came with taking it. I told her she would have loss of appetite and it would keep her up all night.  I also recall reminding her  that selling her prescription pills is a felony and told her not to ever even think of doing so, even if someone asks to buy one from her.  She was well aware of that risk and assured me she would never sell her pills and jeopardize her future. But, what is sad is that kids feel the need to use this ADD/ADHD medicine to help them get through all their school workload. Some teens are so desperate they illegally want to buy it off their friends. Parents, this is awful! This is a cry for help! These kids have no other alternative? Really?  Clearly, this medicine helps many teens succeed and do well, but at what expense?

Are the schools or teachers even aware that so many teens feel a need to take this medicine to stay awake and focused? If not, teachers need to wake up. Maybe our high schools should have classes for teens on how to handle stress or school workload. I am very worried about our teens’ stress levels. Some turn to prescription drugs,  some become depressed — and some do even the unthinkable, commit suicide.  We as parents need to do what we can to help our teens handle their stress levels, even if that means talking with their teachers.  My heart goes out to these teens who feel they have no other alternatives  to handle their stress other than medication or suicide.

Adderall is physically and psychologically addicting, and has long-term side effects.  What about the legal ramifications if your teen gets caught taking it without a prescription? You can kiss your teen’s future goodbye because now they are in a heap of legal trouble.  Now, as a preventative or if your teen does get into legal trouble, I would highly recommend you reach out to ARAG, a national company that offers legal insurance to families.   I wish I knew about legal insurance  years ago, but I know about it now and I am very passionate about paying it forward and helping  other parents become aware of this resources they could tap  in case of an emergency.  There are so many things to worry about as a parent of a teen and  ARAG  (a sponsor of RaisingTeens) could be an important resource because having legal insurance can save you money  and peace of mind when it comes to your teen’s future.

So, parents, please read this article because your teen can have all the right intentions as to why he/she is taking  Adderall, but not realize there are physical and legal consequences for abusing it, and selling or sharing their medicine.

Students abuse pharmaceuticals to maximize efficiency for schoolwork

Should you let your teen drink alcohol?

alcohol at prom


This time of year, the topic of teens and alcohol  comes up more often. There are after-prom parties and after-graduation parties and end-of-year parties and most of them involve drinking alcohol.

As a parent,  do you forbid your teen from underage drinking? Do you say it’s okay for him or her to drink as long as he or she doesn’t drive? Do you explain what drinking in moderation is all about? Do you trust your teen to know his or her limit?

There are many different points of view on the answers to those question. One mom I know bought the alcohol for her daughter’s after prom party and told me she would rather buy it, serve it and monitor it than have the kids sneak it and drink irresponsibly. Another mom forbid her daughter from drinking at prom, but her daughter did anyway and lied about it. (The mom found out through someone else at the prom)

For parents, there really is no single correct  way to deal with teens and alcohol, and there is a lot at stake.  I think the important thing is the conversation you have with your teen about the consequences of driving drunk, losing your inhibition around the opposite sex, and drinking to excess.  Now, there’s also the risk of someone posting drunken photos of your teen on social media. So, I guess that needs to be discussed, too.

There’s also the tricky question for parents of whether to drink around your teen. How do you handle it when they want a sip of what you are drinking? My 14-year-old son always asks for a sip of beer when my husband is drinking it.  So far, my husband has been giving it to him. But I’m worried that soon he’s going to ask for his own bottle.

Parents, what are your experiences with your teens and drinking? How have you been dealing with the end of the year celebrations and alcohol? Have any of you ever bought alcohol for your teens to drink at prom? If so, how did that work out?

How do you know if your teen is smoking pot?


So parents, have you been grappling with figuring out whether your teen smokes pot? Do you just assume your teen will try it?

Some parents are in denial, others really don’t have an issue with it. But then again, it’s legal in Colorado. By the way, don’t even think about calling it pot to your teen. He or she will immediately tell you it’s called weed these days.

In a world where there are so many other worse drugs, is fighting over pot worth the battle?

Welcome to High School Parenting!

Recently I had a girlfriend of mine,  Grace, call me frantically in a panic that her 14-year-old daughter, Lila, a high school freshman,  went to her high school basketball game with her friends. Apparently after the game, she went over one  her friend’s homes and drank —   and drank.  Lila got so drunk she basically passed out.

Well, the mother of the girl’s house where they were drinking came home, saw Lila on the bathroom floor, and called my friend Grace.  Grace couldn’t believe it, her world was shattered by her young high school freshman daughter passed out drunk! How could this happen? she asked me. I said Grace, breathe. Is Lila ok? She said yes.

How could this happen?  she repeated to me. I wanted to say, Really? You have to ask? She is a high school freshman and out with friends, it happens. She was trying her first drink and being she is skinny, it didn’t take much to get her passed out.

Grace took her to the Emergency Room for fear of alcohol poisoning and in case anyone took advantage of her since she was out cold. Happy to say, she was not taken advantage of and they pumped her stomach, gave her fluids and she was sent her home.

I told my friend Grace to do me one favor when her daughter woke up, “Do not  yell or lecture her.” I told Grace her daughter already knows what she did was wrong and  physically is paying for it. She didn’t realize how drinking would affect her. Yes, she is a minor, but what parent can tell me they didn’t sneak a drink when they were in high school?  I also told Grace that the way she will parent Lila from this point forward will never be the same.

Welcome to Teen Parenting Grace! Your life will never be the same.

I also told Grace to let her daughter do all the talking, to let her explain what happened  so she can listen to herself  say what she did and realize it was wrong.

Will she do it again? Maybe. Maybe not.  But this is high school. Teens will drink, smoke pot, have sex. Do we want them to do those things? Absolutely NOT! But, isn’t it better to prepare them so if they do these things behind our backs, they will make smart decisions/choices like no drinking and driving and no drinking until you pass out.

The more you take away, the more the teen will want.

Lila will have to earn her parents trust now, but that’s okay. She has time to do so. My advice to my girlfriend and to parents: pace yourself and don’t panic over the first “violation of trust.”  Teens are trying to make friends. Some will drink to try to fit in and be cool. Some will try other things.  So  try to be understanding and let them know you do not support or agree with their choice to drink or smoke pot or have sex.  Tell them please don’t get in a car if you have been drinking. Call me if you need a ride and use protection always if you have sex. Does this mean you support these choices? Heck no! But don’t be ignorant because you don’t want them dead or getting pregnant. So, if they are going to do what they want to do, EDUCATE THEM! That is the best parenting you can do for them. Let them know, you love them and hope they make smart choices because bad ones have bad consequences.

My dear friend Grace took her daughter to a therapist as well in hopes that maybe she drank for a reason. I told her Lila drank because her friends did and she wanted to try it, plain and simple.

We can’t shelter our kids yet expect them to survive  in the real world once they are adults. It doesn’t work that way.

The point I’m making is…Don’t panic!  The teen years will get better and you will survive them.  Welcome to High School Parenting!

What would you do if this was your daughter?

For several days now, I’ve been upset by a story my kids have told me and I want to get some other parents thoughts.

Here is what happened:

Last weekend, a bunch of kids were at a house party and were drinking. One girl named Emily got drunk and decided to go out on the crowded patio and give her ex-boyfriend oral sex on a lounge chair. Immediately, another teenager whipped out his cellphone and videoed it. He forwarded the video to friends, who forwarded the video to more friends.

It took only about two days for thousands of teens to have seen the video. It not only spread to students at the high school the girl attends but it also made its way to kids phones at two other nearby high schools. The video became so talked about that several of my daughter’s teachers knew about it and discussed it in class. One of my daughter’s teachers urged those who had it on their phones to delete it and told them they could get in trouble for disseminating child pornography.

My daughter was really upset about this whole incident and feels extremely sorry for the girl. My son’s take is different — he called the girl a slut, said she shouldn’t have been doing what she did in public, even if she was drinking. He pointed out that it’s almost an expectation today that anything stupid you do will be videoed by your peers.

A few days after the party, kids from a rival school showed up at a high school basketball game with a sign that said your school sucks and so does Emily. We all know that teens can be VERY mean.

Regardless how you look at this incident, I think it’s horribly sad.  Teens by nature are immature and make mistakes…but now their mistakes are soooo public. Could you imagine what it would have been like to have your teen mistakes caught on video?

I can’t imagine how this girl is going to  shake off the reputation she now has earned.  It’s likely it will  even follow her to college unless she leaves the state.

My daughter also was upset that no one has even mentioned the boy’s name or revealed his identity, only the girl.  I explained to her that unfortunately, that’s how it is and has always been in our society.

My kids have heard that the girl has been tweeting to urge her peers to back off. I really hope this girl is strong enough to withstand the taunting.

How would you handle this situation if you were the girl’s parent?

You might be inclined to preface your answer by saying your daughter would never do something like this but I’m sure Emily’s mom would have said the same thing.

If Emily were my daughter, I think I would get her into counseling pronto. For the rest of us, maybe it’s an opportunity to acknowledge that we live in the digital age and discuss actions and consequences with our kids.



Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus, Amanda Bynes….what are these teens thinking?

Last weekend, a bunch of kids in my teens’ school threw a party with alcohol and drugs. They posted photos of themselves all over Facebook with giant liquor bottles. Anyone who didn’t go was made to feel like they missed out on something really, really cool.

That’s what we’re up against today as parents. I’m not lovin it.

Not only do teens have the normal peer pressure in high school but they have the social media peer pressure to deal with when they’re trying to do the right thing.

Which brings me to Miley Cyrus. Miley has decided to make herself look bizarro. She has used social media to let the world know. Within hours after it happening, she tweeted out photos of her freakish new haircut and dye job. As a parent, my immediate reaction was to scream and run into my daughter’s room shouting DON’T EVEN THINK OF DOING THIS! But there are lots of girls out there who think whatever Miley does is cool and they are choosing to make themselves look like freaks, too.

…and that’s why I hate when teen starlets  go bad.

I know it’s hard for young celebrities to be perfect, especially when you’ve got the world watching your every move.  But really, don’t these Hollywood starlets know that millions of younger girls look up to them and follow their every move on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter?

I love Miley Cyrus because she’s talented. Her song, The Climb, is so moving. I love Amanda Bynes because she’s always been the girl with a sense of humor.  And I must admit that The Parent Trap with Lindsay Lohan is one of my all time favorite movies.

I’m disappointed that Amanda is whacked out, that Lindsay can’t stop herself from drinking, partying and crashing cars and that Miley has decided to take on a bad girl image. I trying to use these incidents to talk to my daughter about maturing without going insane.

I’m no fool though. I know in Hollywood, just like in my home, kids mature and make their own decisions about how to dress and act, sometimes just to rebel. But as a mom, I feel invested in my Hollywood favorites and cheer them on like I would my own kids. I want to see these girls do well. I miss the sweet lil Hannah Montana. Obviously, she still hasn’t found the best of both worlds.

Parents, do your teens think it’s cool to be a good girl gone bad? Have you talked with them about how to handle it when their role models disappoint them?



Star says rehab is like summer camp: lots of teens

Kristen Johnston was 28 she was cast as John Lithgow’s co-star in the runaway hit sitcom, 3rd Rock From the Sun. Suddenly famous, she says was unprepared to handle the overnight fame. She turned to alcohol and pills. After popping an endless array of pain pills, she almost died in a London hospital when an ulcer in her stomach exploded. She spent two months in the hospital.

Kristen says biggest shock to her when she went to rehab was that it looked like a summer camp: lots of teenagers. She asked about it and one of the counselors said this is what all rehabs look like.

Wow! Kristen says she discovered 1 in every 3 teens meets the medical criteria for addiction and 1 in every 70 teens will go to rehab. Coincidentally, the New York Times ran a piece on Sunday about teen use and abuse of the Adderall, an amphetamine prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  Teens routinely pop these pills to study late into the night, focus during tests and get better grades. It’s happening the most among highly competitive students.

Kristen reveals some interesting stats on rehab: Eighty percent of rehabilitated teenagers who return to a regular high school will relapse within 90 days.

Johnston said her discovery led her to found the nonprofit, SLAM (Sobriety, Learning and Motivation). “We’re really devoted to making New York City’s first sober high school.” There are 25 of these schools across the country, but New York is not one of them. At a recovery school, 70 percent of rehabilitated teens will graduate clean and sober.

Did you know the rate of substance abuse and addiction was this high in teens? Would you know the warning signs if you saw them in your teen?

Do we confess our own poor choices?

When I was 16, I chugged wine coolers with my friends on the beach. Lots of wine coolers. We had no designated driver.  On the ride home, we sang at the top of our lungs to the blaring radio, further distracting the already drunk driver maneuvering the streets of Miami with a carload of teens.

Do you ever think about some of the things you did as a teen and cringe?


Even worse, have you ever been caught in a conversation like this:

“Mom, what age were you when you first had sex?”


“Mom. Be serious.”

At some point, as parents of teens, you will reflect on your own poor choices and wonder how you ever made it through the teen years alive. And then, you will be forced to confront them when queried by your teen who inevitably will toss an incriminating question your way when you least expect it.

Lately, I’ve resorted to mumbling my response. It’s the coward’s way out but at least it’s a language my teen son understands.

I’ll be doing the dishes and he’ll blind side me with something like, “Have you ever smoked?”

Me: grumble, grumble, grumble.

Him: Oh.

Then, if you’re like me, you will wonder when your child’s real mother will show up. You know, the one with the flawless past who did everything exactly the way you’re telling your teen to do it.

So, while I don’t advocate lying to your teen, I do suggest being prepared. Teens will use parents as their guideposts and they seem to sniff when we are BSing them.

Recently, Madonna said on TV that she’s horrified that her daughter Lourdes was photographed smoking a cigarette. She said she thinks she may need to become a tougher parent.

Then NBC correspondent Harry Smith brought up a music video of Madonna, ahem, smoking, to which she responded: “I don’t smoke. That’s just an accessory, Harry. There’s a difference.”

Apparently, Lourdes didn’t think so.

Readers, how honest are you with your kids about your teen indiscretions? Do you skirt around the tough questions or confess and offer an explanation? Do you think your teen would buy into a do-as-I-say-not -as-I-did approach to parenting?

Would you show this fatal drunk driving crash video to your teen?

Teens are going to drink. They will. I’m resigned to that because I already see my 18-year-old nephew doing it. But will they drink and drive?


Many of them will figure it’s just a few blocks to home or their dorm room and take a chance.

So parents, how bad do you want to scare them into thinking twice about drinking and driving? And,  is there anything that still shocks teens?


A teenager, whose camera was rolling as her two friends died in a drunk driving crash wants other young people to see and hear the gut-wrenching video. Desaleen James, 18, was inside the car when she took the video and is the sole survivor.  The video aired on CBS News shows three young women – one drunk behind the wheel – headed home from a Maryland nightclub on December 29th, 2011. It captures one of the women in the car saying, “We’re driving drunk.” (A police report confirms the driver was more than twice the legal limit for intoxication. )


The video also captured the crash and  continues to roll from inside the mangled car for 21 minutes, capturing the sounds of the desperate rescue attempt.  The 22-year-old driver and 19-year-old passenger were both killed. Desaleen James, 18, who videotaped the entire night, survived, suffering a broken hip. She was buckled up in the front passenger seat.

“Maybe I here to save someone else. I wouldn’t want even my worst enemy to walk in my shoes right now,”  says Desaleen, who talks about how easy it was to get alcohol in a club, even at 18.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death among teens – one out of three is alcohol related, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving statistics based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The good news is that the number of DUI fatalities has actually gone down in the U.S. in recent years. But wow, this video is painful and powerful!

Parents, check out the video. Do you think it would have any affect on your teen’s choices?


Click here for link to video


See the follow up video:

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