by Toni Michelsen, Upper School Counselor
Renee Soulis from FCD (Freedom from Chemical Dependency) gave an evening presentation to Severn parents this past Tuesday evening in which she discussed a number of important components regarding underage drinking. She first stressed the importance of parents in the lives of their children, and their unique position as the key role models in their children’s lives. Click here to read the article from FCD entitled 'Adult Attitudes and Hidden Heroes.'
Ms. Soulis also cited four major risk factors for developing a problem with alcohol.
- Alcoholism tends to run in families, and if this is the case, it is important that parents discuss this fact with their children.
- Some individuals have a high tolerance for alcohol, having minimal physical ramifications that would normally prompt an individual to curb their drinking (i.e., hangovers, blackouts, vomiting, etc).
- Alcohol use can affect individuals very differently, depending upon their size and metabolism. Also, recent research has found that women process alcohol very differently than men and are more adversely affected by it.
- Delayed use of alcohol is critical. Parents should encourage their children to delay their use of alcohol for as long as possible. Research has shown that the younger someone is when they begin drinking is a predictor of life-long alcohol problems.
Ms. Soulis stated that there have been many trends in alcohol prevention over the past 30 years that have included such techniques as using scare tactics on teenagers, heightening teenagers' sense of self-esteem, providing teenagers with an extensive array of fact-based information, etc.
Over the past several years, however, there has been a major shift in alcohol education in which the 'social norms model' has proven to be quite effective. This model is currently gaining widespread use across college campuses in the United States, and is an important component of FCD’s alcohol education programs.
In the social norms model, research is first conducted, statistics are compiled and analyzed, and results are published and then discussed with students, parents, faculty, administrators, etc. The focus of this model is on the number of individuals who have chosen not to drink rather than on those individuals who are drinking. Ms. Soulis stated that amazingly what has been found is that 'everybody is not doing it.'
Please click here to "Explaining Social Norms."
Pleae click her to read "Effectiveness of Social Norms-Based Substance Abuse Prevention."