Many teens don’t realize the dangers of drinking and driving until they end up in a dangerous situation, such as receiving an DUI. If your child has received a teen DUI, you may be having difficulty dealing with the situation and talking to them about it. At Ember Recovery, we want to help parents and teens handle this delicate situation.
We’re going to share some tips for how you can talk to your teen about underage drinking and some possible underlying causes that may have led them to an underage DUI. We’ll also tell you how the team at Ember Recovery is ready to help if your teen has a substance abuse disorder.
The Dangerous of Drinking and Driving: Teen DUI Statistics
Teen drivers have a much higher risk of being involved in a crash than older drivers at the same blood alcohol concentration. Many teens may not realize this fact. So, if a teenager is with an adult who is drinking and is trying to drink the same, the consequences can be deadly.
When it comes to drinking and driving, statistics show that one in ten teens in high school drinks and drives. Research also indicates that every 15 minutes, a teenager will die due to drunk driving and that 60% of all teen deaths from car accidents involve alcohol. These statistics paint a sobering picture of how dangerous drinking and driving can be for teens.
How to Talk to Your Teen about Teen DUI & the Dangers of Drinking and Driving
If your teen has received a DUI, your first instinct may be to scream and yell. But there are more productive ways to handle the situation.
Here are some tips on how to talk to your child about teen DUI:
Have a Calm Conversation
Try to offer a safe, non-judgmental space where your child can talk to you about what happened. Your teen is experiencing many feelings just as you are. Encourage them to share their emotions so that you can have an open and honest conversation.
Set a Zero Tolerance Policy
Be sure your teen knows that the law prohibits anyone under 21 from drinking. If they do so, there are consequences for violating the law. Let them know they are not allowed to drink, no matter the situation.
While the law may enforce its own consequences, such as revoking their license, you also want to be sure there are consequences at home for your teen’s actions. This can include setting a new curfew and rules about when they need to check in with you. You may also want to limit the passengers your teenager has in the car.
Work to Rebuild Trust in Your Relationship
A teen DUI has likely broken much of the trust you had in your teen. Explain that the trust has to be rebuilt. While it may take time, be sure your teen knows they can still reach out to you if they find themselves in a risky situation.
One of the best ways to teach your child about the dangers of drinking and driving is to set an example. Don’t engage in risky behavior involving drinking. Always act responsibly when it comes to alcohol so your teen always has a positive role model.
Possible Underlying Causes of Teen Drinking and DUI
Many parents struggle to realize what led their teen to drink and get behind the wheel. Teen DUI can be a sign of an underlying mental health issue. Teenage alcohol or substance abuse can be a symptom of untreated depression or anxiety. Teens who are dealing with these types of issues may turn to alcohol as a way to mask the pain.
Having poor impulse control that can lead to drinking and driving can also be a symptom of a mood or personality disorder. Studies have shown that adults who are repeat DUI offenders also deal with significant mental health disorders. This is why it’s important for teens to get a mental health assessment so that a health professional can help determine if something else is going on. Ignoring a mental health issue as a teen can lead to further problems as an adult.
Getting Help for a Teenage Drinking Problem at Ember Recovery
If you’re dealing with teen DUI and want to get your teen into a treatment program, Ember Recovery is here to help. We offer treatment programs exclusively for teenagers. Our programs are designed to cater to the needs of teenagers who are dealing with a substance abuse disorder. We also offer after-care programs to teach teens how to deal with the outside world once their program is complete.
For more information on how we can help your teen, contact us today.
Sources: https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/teendrinkinganddriving/index.html  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17907861/
Andrea Dickerson is a Licensed Therapist and Certified Substance Use Counselor who has worked in behavioral health since 1997. Currently, Andrea is the Director of Behavioral Health, overseeing the Ember residential treatment programs and YSS outpatient counseling clinics throughout Central and North Central Iowa. She became a Motivational Interviewing (MI) trainer in 2006 and provides MI trainings throughout Iowa.
Andrea specializes in working with adolescents and their families and enjoys seeing the family relationships grow through therapy. Andrea is also a CARF International Surveyor, going around North America ensuring behavioral health organizations are meeting required standards.
In her free time, Andrea enjoys cheering on the Iowa Hawkeyes and Chicago Cubs, as well as being an active member of Soroptimist International of the Americas (SIA), a global organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment. She has been a member of the SI of Des Moines club since 2012 and has been actively involved at the regional level, currently serving as Co-Governor of the Peaks to Plains Region.
Through her involvement in SIA, Andrea has been actively involved in the Dream Programs, coordinating annual Dream It, Be It: Career Support for Girls projects, which give girls the tools they need to achieve their education and career goals, empowering them to break cycles of poverty, violence, and abuse.