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Contemporary Parenting Questions


Last updated on 11/10/08

Should I worry about alcohol abuse in my teenager?

Although parents and educators try not to think about it, research has shown that nearly 80% of high school kids have tried alcohol long before it is legal for them. A study completed in the year 2005 concluded that about 10.8 million adolescents between the ages of twelve and twenty are underage alcohol drinkers. These statistics are not just numbers on a paper; they represent kids with real problems that will affect their daily lives and futures. Children who drink are more likely to be victims of violent crime, have serious problems in school, and be involved in drinking-related car accidents. Alcohol use is also linked to deaths caused by drowning, suicide, and homicide.

Most kids have experimented with alcohol, and one could hardly blame them. Kids are flooded with media messages that glamorize alcohol abuse, and they are under a tremendous amount of peer pressure to drink. Additionally, children whose parents do not consume alcohol responsibly lack appropriate role models in that area and simply copy what they are accustomed to seeing. Parents should start discussing alcohol use and abuse with kids at an early age, and keep talking about it as they grow up. As they get older, kids and teens should be informed of the family’s rules about alcohol and taught how to respond when offered an alcoholic beverage. Alcohol can kill; teach your child about alcohol and its ramifications before it becomes too late.

In the Jewish Community

In an article published by JACS (Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others -, Rabbi Twerski discredits the fairy tale that Jews do not drink alcohol or take drugs. He warns of the "growing malignancy" that is alcohol and other chemical abuse. Unchecked it can kill the abuser, break up families and eventually destroy a community. He urges clergy education programs, to teach Clergy and other Jewish professionals to counsel people with problems. Most of all he urges the Jewish community not to sweep the problem under the carpet, and to recognize that the disease exists, even in our own homes.

Alcohol abuse is a widespread problem in the Jewish community, particularly in the boy’s high schools. Far from home with little supervision, even the most diligent child can be convinced to have an illegal drink. It is imperative for parents and educators to learn the warning signs of alcohol abuse rather than pretend the problem does not exist. Parents must serve as appropriate role models for their children and educate them about appropriate alcohol use at a young age.

Use the following links to educate yourself about underage drinking. Learn the early warning signs of alcohol abuse and find out where to go if you suspect that your child has a problem.

Frequently Asked Links

What is alcohol and how does it affect the body?

What are some of alcohol’s effects?

What is binge drinking?

Do I know enough about substance abuse? (Quiz)

What are some of the early warning signs that someone may have a substance abuse problem?

What are some of the signs of substance abuse?

By Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

What are some of the dangers of substance abuse?

By Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

Are girls at risk for alcohol abuse?

Who is likely to experience alcohol abuse?

How common is underage drinking?

Is substance abuse a problem in the Jewish Community? more

By Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

Should I allow my child to drink on Purim?

By Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

Can parents be prosecuted for underage drinking?

How can I help my teen get help for a substance addiction problem?

What should I do if my child needs substance abuse treatment?

How can I talk to my kids about alcohol before it becomes a problem?

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Coping With an Alcoholic Parent
Alcoholism causes anguish not only for the person who drinks, but also for everyone who is involved with that person. Nevertheless, there are things you can do to help cope with the problems alcoholism creates in families.

Peer Pressure
responding to peer pressure is part of human nature — but some people are more likely to give in, and others are better able to resist and stand their ground. Find out how to make the right choices for you.


Addiction and Substance Abuse Resources for the Jewish Community

Compiled by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
AA's primary purpose is to carry the message of recovery for alcoholics. AA also lists symptoms of specific drugs and offers literature on sobriety and drinking.

National Mental Health Association (NMHA)
NMHA works to improve the mental health of all Americans through advocacy, education, research, and service.

Alcohol and Drug Problems Association of North America
The Alcohol and Drug Problems Association of North America addresses the prevention and recovery of alcohol and substance abuse. Call: (314) 589-6702

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
This federal agency strives to improve the quality and availability of prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation services in order to reduce illness, death, disability, and cost to society resulting from substance abuse and mental illnesses. Call: (800) 789-2647.

Join Together
Join Together, a project of the Boston University School of Public Health, is a national resource for communities working to reduce substance abuse and gun violence. Call: (617) 437-1500

This is a support group for family members and friends of alcoholics. Call: (888) 4AL-ANON

Alcohol and Other Drug Information for Teens
This informational page by the National Children's Coalition offers facts about drugs and alcohol, teen recovery groups, and a drug and alcohol resource center.

Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD)
SADD is a peer leadership organization dedicated to preventing underage drinking, other drug use, impaired driving, and destructive decisions.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
MADD has numerous resources for parents and content for teens.

National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information
This organization provides resources and referrals related to drug and alcohol abuse. Call: (800) 729-6686

Addiction Help Line
Submit a request for a referral on this site, and it will help direct you to the nearest and most appropriate treatment centers.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
This branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) leads efforts to reduce alcohol-related problems through research and education. The website includes related news, publications, clinical trials, and FAQs.

Rabbi Horowitz does not endorse any external sites or monitor or approve content on these sites. When considering information presented here, you should consult your experts to determine what is best for you. Our sole purpose is to help you access information that Rabbi Horowitz and others have made available on the internet.


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