‘Never too late or too early’ to tackle teen alcohol abuse, say Manchester counsellors

Greater Manchester family and relationship experts Relate are giving advice to parents who are worried about their teenagers’ drinking habits.

Relate Greater Manchester South is advising parents on how to intervene when they are concerned about their children’s relationship with alcohol without damaging their own relationship.

They are using Alcohol Awareness Week to highlight teenage drinking ahead of Christmas when the temptation for teens to have a tipple is at its highest.

But Relate counsellor Polly Sangar said it is always the right time to talk to your teenagers if you are concerned about how much they’re drinking.

She said: “Lots of parents have concerns about their teenagers and alcohol but find it difficult to communicate effectively, which can put the relationship under strain.

“The truth is it’s never too early or too late to have an open conversation about drinking and to lay down some ground rules. 

“If like so many parents, you’re unsure where to begin, a Relate counsellor can lend a helping hand.”

A survey carried out by the Drinkaware Trust revealed that 60% of 15 and 16-year-olds regard drinking as a normal part of growing up.

However the picture is looking more promising for British teens than it was a decade ago with the number of young adults who have binged on alcohol falling by more than a third between 2005 and 2013 to just 18%.

Despite the falling figures Relate GMS, who work closely with families to offer advice on parenting, still hear from many parents who are worried about their children’s drinking.

Ms Sangar emphasised the potential physical and psychological consequences for teens.

She said: “Underage drinking can have a huge impact on teenager’s lives.

“Not only are young people who drink regularly at risk of liver damage but alcohol can also affect their mental health, sexual behaviour and achievement in the classroom.”

Relate which has over 1700 counsellors nationwide and helps over a million people every year has these top tips for parents –

  • Talk to your teen openly and honestly about the risks associated with alcohol. 
  • Put rules in place- research shows that teens who have rules around alcohol are less likely to get drunk. 
  • If your teen does come home drunk, don’t talk to them about it until they’ve sobered up.
  • If they’ve been drinking, explain why you’re upset or concerned – tell them that you really love and care about them and that you’re scared for their safety when they drink. 
  • Avoid adopting a blaming position. It may help to reflect on your own experiences of alcohol as a teenager.
  • Bear in mind your responsibility as a role model when it comes to your own drinking.  This may affect their response to the way you communicate with them.

Parents who believe their child may be suffering from alcohol addiction can get professional help and support from Relate, details of which can be found on their website.

Relate also offers a free Live Chat service for parents of teenagers where you can talk to a trained counsellor in real time. 

Alcohol Awareness Week takes place this week and sees events taking place across the UK to emphasise the issues associated with alcohol addiction and allows health trusts, charities and organisations to highlight the help and support on offer.

Greater Manchester hosts this year’s National Recovery Conference this Thursday and Friday at Bolton’s Macron Stadium.

The event is the UK’s biggest recovery conference for drug and alcohol addiction and the ‘Voices of Recovery’ theme will champion the voices and perspectives within the recovery community.

For more information, advice and counselling for all stages of your relationships for families and parenting, click here, or call Relate GMS on 0300 0032331.  

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