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Underage Drinking Spikes During Winter Holidays

Sun Journal

The holidays are prime time for youth experimenting with alcohol according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Randy Haveson, an addiction expert and author of the book "Party with a Plan," says reducing use among youth starts at home.

"I find a lot of parents still have the idea that 'oh, they're just teenagers, of course they're going to experiment,'" says Haveson. "And it really takes the parents toeing the line more and not allowing their kids to get away with this."

According to the report, more than 11,000 youths a day will drink alcohol for the first time in December, June and July - the peak months for the first-time use.

Research shows alcohol can have a long-term impact on a teen's brain, preventing the parts of the brain that make good judgment and encourage impulse control from fully developing. Haveson says the brain isn't fully developed until age 25.

"Study after study shows," says Haveson. "The earlier someone begins to drink or do other drugs, the more chance they have of developing a problem."

Haveson suggests talking early and often with your children about alcohol use, explaining why they should abstain, and being careful not to glorify your own adolescent years if you partook.

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