Just Let Your Teen Smoke and Drink, Already

Teens, alcoholBack in high school, a party wasn’t a party if folks didn’t have some alcohol and weed. Even the people you’d never suspect were down. The goody goody teachers’ pets, the jocks who threw milk carton passes in the cafeteria, the Future Farmers of America. Freakin’ everybody was on the bandwagon.

Except me. I don’t know exactly why I never drank. I grew up with an alcoholic in the family, but I don’t even think that’s it. It was also a fear of throwing up, not wanting to humiliate myself, having too much fun watching other people make inebriated fools of themselves, and being naturally loud and crazy. Adding alcohol just didn’t seem like a good idea.

I get why we try to keep kids away from drugs and drinks. It’s the parental thing to do. But a recent study indicates that it’s a losing battle because nearly half of all teens do it anyway. 


The information, pulled from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, also reveals that one out of every four of our kids is going to become an addict. That’s some really scary stuff. I love to watch Intervention — partly because I like to understand the domino effect of events that lead to a person ending up dependent — and my heart goes out to the people begging and pleading with the sons and daughters to quit whatever life-compromising habit they’re addicted to. But the thought of actually being that person is more than I can fully process.

Clearly, the warnings and threats and admonishments and petting and protecting isn’t really working to keep our kids away from the lure of peer pressure and paraphernalia. It’s sad that it’s not effective, but the numbers of kids who, even at this super early age, believe they need to have a little (or a lotta) somethin’ somethin’ in their systems in order to have fun is overwhelming.

That being said, I’m wondering if there isn’t some benefit to just giving them free reign to partake of their drug and alcohol usage in the safe boundaries of their home? If they’re going to do it anyway, they might as well do it somewhere where they can’t wreck the car, cause an accident, hit a pedestrian, or try to chug their body weight in beer or shots of hard liquor.

It’s certainly not a new concept. Every now and then, I’ll see a parent in the news — especially around prom season — who foolishly allowed not just their child, but their child’s friends to come on over and knock back a few and spark up a few too, all in the name of safety and security. That may have been the intention, but I can empathize with the outraged parent vibe on the other end of the spectrum. To be honest, I can see the argument from both sides.

On one hand, you have to give your kids the whole “just say no” drill because once they’re pressured to try marijuana, they’ll be pressured to try E pills or Xanex, and then that might lead to who even wants to think about it? Full-blown, hardcore, fiend-making drugs. And if you give the green light to one, you’re essentially giving the green light to them all.

But on the flipside, you can administer more control over what they do if they do it under your roof. Law-breaking aside, it allows them to get familiar with their limits and squelch some of the erratic and just stupid behavior that seems to go hand-in-hand with the drug buffet. I’m not voting for either one. I, like everybody else from experts over to parents, don’t know what formula is going to work to get through to the teen collective. Shoot, if I had the answer I’d be perched up somewhere in the Obama administration.

But the proof is in the numbers, and the numbers are saying that we aren’t convincing teens about the dangers and drama associated with drugs and alcohol.

Is it smart parenting to let them try it out at home as opposed to sneaking and doing it stupidly out in the world?

Image via icanteachyouhowtodoit/Flickr

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