Talk to your grads about drinking dangers


It's high school graduation season and an agency looking out for the safety of your kids wants you to have a serious conversation with your teenagers before the celebrating begins. The National Institutes of Health is asking parents to talk to their teens about the dangers of drinking alcohol at graduation parties.

"It's worth having the conversation that alcohol is a toxin. It can harm your body. It has impact on your driving and your judgment where you can harm another person," said Cleveland Clinic Children's Pediatrician Dr. Ellen Rome.

NIH researchers estimate about 1.7 million young people ages 12 to 20 drink heavily. They warn a teenager's brain is still developing and is very sensitive to alcohol's effects. Short-term effects of alcohol include loss of balance and blurred vision, which can make typical activities, like crossing a busy intersection, very dangerous. Parents are being urged to point out the trouble their graduate could get into if they are caught drinking under age.

Rome says parents should also talk to their graduates about alcohol poisoning, which can lead to permanent brain damage, or even death.

"You can have the choice of putting that drink to your mouth or just putting it aside and no alcohol poisoning happens when somebody doesn't drink. So, help them have the skills and the tools and the words to say to keep themselves safe," she explained.

Rome says studies have shown parents can make a difference, so talking to your graduating teen could help prevent a life-changing mistake.