WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- With emergency room visits up for problems associated with teen alcohol abuse at White Plains Hospital and hospitals across the country, talking to teens about the hazards of underage drinking is more than a one-time event.
Nearly 200,000 teenagers across the country end up in hospital emergency rooms as a direct result of injury or accidents due to underage drinking, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year, they report.
“Teen drinking is a very serious issue and the consequences can be dire. We know that children as young as 12 can begin to experiment with alcohol, so it’s important that parents begin these conversations early and model responsible alcohol consumption through their own behavior," said Dr. Erik Larsen, assistant director of Emergency Medical Services and Emergency Preparedness at White Plains Hospital.
To increase awareness of underage drinking, and to encourage parents in the community to initiate thoughtful, age-appropriate conversations with their children, White Plains Hospital is sponsoring the Health Alliance on Alcohol, a national public initiative developed in partnership with Heineken USA and the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System.
Since 2005, the Health Alliance on Alcohol has provided parents, mentors, and community leaders with impactful tools on how to engage teens in honest, fact-based conversations on underage alcohol use and its effects.
According to Larsen, alcohol seriously impacts teenagers in several ways.
“The young brain is still evolving, so connections are being made and chemistry is forming. Alcohol affects those connections,” he notes. “Besides seriously endangering a child’s health due to over consumption, alcohol can impair activities, like walking and driving, which can cause tragic accidents. There’s also evidence that shows that if you start drinking alcohol as a young person, you are more likely to have adult alcohol dependence problems.”
To support the Health Alliance on Alcohol’s efforts, White Plains Hospital is releasing public service videos on its website and social media channels . In the videos, Larsen encourages parents to visit www.healthallianceonalcohol.com for helpful guides to get the conversation started.
“There are many great resources out there that offer parents talking points to navigate these difficult conversations. It’s best to get started early, and to keep an open dialogue with your children throughout their adolescence,” he advises.
Larsen adds that the main goal of the campaign is to keep the community safe: “By joining together to start these conversations now, hopefully, we can help educate parents and teens and promote healthier behavior.”