Yesterday, a teacher working in our local prevention program told us teen drinking is considered cool at school. How can teens turn down a drink when everyone else seems to be drinking? We’re glad you asked.

The teen years can be difficult as there are so many issues associated with growing up. Issues include learning to separate from parents, relationships with peers, school, extracurricular activities, dating, sexual pressures, and pressure to drink and drug. As alcohol is the most commonly used substance for adolescents, looking for ways to refuse drinking is important.

Best Ways To Avoid Teen Drinking

  • Hang out with other friends who don’t drink
  • Simply leave the situation when drinking starts
  • Walk around with soda or flavored water and sip on that instead of alcohol
  • Refuse the alcohol – no excuses needed. If your friends are true friends, they will respect your boundaries. They may test you for awhile, but will give up if you continue to say no.

Reasons You Can’t Drink (Even If They Aren’t Always True)

  • You promised your parents you wouldn’t drink
  • Your parents will ground you forever
  • Your parents smell your breath or will give you a breathalyzer when you get home
  • Drinking is against your own beliefs and values
  • You’re worried about legal charges such as a minor in possession charge or drunk-driving charge
  • You are on medication that makes drinking impossible
  • Your privileges at home will be denied such as being banned from using the car or no use of your phone
  • You become an angry or weepy, depressed drinker and are no fun to be around
  • You don’t like the taste of alcohol
  • There is alcoholism in the family and you don’t want to become an alcoholic
  • You’re allergic to alcohol (including gluten)
  • Your culture is one that has a high rate of alcoholism such as Native Americans
  • Your religious/spiritual beliefs do not support drinking
  • Your family upbringing is one of no alcohol use and you honor this
  • You’re on a sports team and can’t drink
  • You are focusing on school and getting into a good college
  • You are afraid of doing stupid things when you drink
  • You believe in a healthy lifestyle which includes no alcohol
  • You have plans in the morning so can’t allow yourself to drink and disrupt those plans
  • Your parents just called you and said you had to come home.

A Touch Of Humor To Avoid Teen Drinking Never Hurts

  • “I break out in handcuffs when I drink.”
  • “I spend my whole time peeing if I drink.”
  • “I break out in unprotected sex when I drink.”
  • “My parents will kill me if I get caught.”
  • “My dog doesn’t like me to drink.”
  • “I don’t want to get fat.”
  • “I’m so impulsive, I’ll probably get drunk and do stupid things.”
  • “I’m crazy enough without alcohol.”
  • “I’d like to keep the few brain cells I do have.”
  • “My parents are friends with the cops and I’m afraid of getting caught.”

Here’s one other really crucial thing to know. Women process alcohol at twice the rate of men. That means 1 drink is really two. And 2 drinks are really 4. In essence, there are many ways, creative ways, to say “no.” But the first step is up to you. You can make healthy choices or unhealthy ones.


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Carol Anderson
Carol Anderson, D.Min., ACSW, LMSW, is a licensed clinical social worker with over 25 years of experience in the fields of mental health, addictions, and co-occurring disorders. Her other specialties include grief and trauma, women’s issues, chronic pain management, holistic healing, GLBTQ concerns, and spirituality and transpersonal psychology. Dr. Anderson has been educated and trained in the fields of education, social work, and spirituality, and she holds a Doctor of Ministry degree (non-denominational/interfaith) specializing in spirituality.

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