You Caught Your Teen Drinking, Now What Do You Do? Part 3

Teen drinking counseling vancouver wa craig griffin counseling

Discipline, boundaries and limitations  

For this post I'd like to turn to several research studies for best case practices. Your kid is unique, I don't need to tell you that, you already know! Some of these may fit for you and your teen, some may not. At the very least they offer food for thought.   


How common is drinking among teens?  

Percentage of teens that have consumed alcohol in the last year (1)

  • 8th grade 17.6%  

  • 10th grade 38.3% 

  • 12th grade 56.6% 

If your teen is in the 8th grade, 1 friend out of 6 has used alcohol. If your teen is in the 10th grade, 1 friend out of 3 has used alcohol. If your teen is in the 12th grade, more than half of his friends have used alcohol.  Part of existence for a teen is making friends and having friends. Friendships are as important to teens as your morning cup of coffee is to you. When the majority of your friends are drinking, it creates a major temptation issue.      

Parents have acknowledged the temptation to drink and some have used supervised drinking as a way to minimize the risks. Does it work? In short, no.  

  • One study demonstrated that supervised drinking leads to higher likelihood of continued drinking and alcohol related harm (2)  

  • A study of parents who allowed their 6th, 7th and 8th graders to drink at home show a significant escalation of drinking when compared with less permissive parents. (3) 

  • Another study showed that teens drank more outside of the home when they were allowed to drink in the home. (4) 


What Works? 

The research shows that Authoritative parenting style was the most successful in lowing underage drinking among teens. (5)


Authoritative parents:  

  • Hold their children to high standards  

  • Communicate those standards clearly  

  • Use natural consequences to discipline  

  • Are warm and inviting (regardless of the teen's behavior)  

  • Give their children resources and support  


What do teens want?     

Teens want their parents to set limits, 80% of teens believe their parents have a right to determine alcohol restrictions. (6) Teens want to be supported and guided by parents that hold them accountable for their actions but understand the difficulties of being a teen. Sometimes saying no to drinking means saying no to a fun party, your best friend and a chance to be with the girl you like.   

Studies show that, regardless of parenting styles, teens who know that their parents would be upset with them if they use alcohol, are less likely to use. This demonstrates the importance of communication between parents and teens as a way to protect them from drinking. (7) 


Teen Counseling 

Teens open up to a neutral person. Counseling can be incredibly successful in identifying the specific struggles your teen has with alcohol. In most cases teens want to respect parent's values and regain trust in the relationship, they just don't know how to navigate the other stuff.    


Like what you see? Want to see more? Subscribe by going to the bottom of this website, enter your email and name.  Or like my Facebook page

About Me: I'm a Christian counselor in Vancouver, WA. I specialize in treating male teens and men's counseling. Please contact me with any questions about my blog, counseling or to set up an appointment.

All information and opinions shared on this blog are for educational purposes only. Please contact me or another mental health care provider for diagnosis and treatment. 

Vancouver, WA | Teen Therapy and Counseling




3 Komro, K.A.; Maldonado-Molina, M.M.; Tobler, A.L.; et al. Effects of home access and availability of alcohol on young adolescents’ alcohol use. Addiction102(10):1597–1608, 2007. 

4 van der Vorst, H.; Engels, R.C.; and Burk, W.J. Do parents and best friends influence the normative increase in adolescents’ alcohol use at home and outside the home? Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 71(1):105–114, 2010. 

5 Jackson, C. Perceived legitimacy of parental authority and tobacco and alcohol use during early adolescence. Journal of Adolescent Health 31(5):425–432, 2002. 

6 Jackson, C. Perceived legitimacy of parental authority and tobacco and alcohol use during early adolescence. Journal of Adolescent Health 31(5):425–432, 2002. 

7 Foley, K.L.; Altman, D.; Durant, R.H.; and Wolfson, M. Adults’ approval and adolescents’ alcohol use. Journal of Adolescent Health 35(4):e17–e26, 2004.