Minimising teenage alcohol abuse: Advice for parents

21 July 2016

There is increasing concern among health experts and parents regarding how to minimise the risk of harm to young people from alcohol consumption. Harm from alcohol-related accident or injury is experienced disproportionately by younger people.

NHMRC guidelines published in 2009 recommend that young people under the age of 15 refrain from consuming any alcohol at all, and those over 15 delay drinking for as long as possible.

To help parents implement these recommendations, new guidelines have been developed drawing on current literature in the area as well as expert consensus.

Key messages within these guidelines include:

  • Parents should talk with their children about alcohol, its effects and the consequences of drinking. Helpful preparation for these discussions includes accessing reputable information about alcohol and adolescent drinking, as well as parents thinking about their own drinking and attitudes about alcohol.
  • Parents should try to model healthy attitudes to alcohol and drinking.
  • Develop clear family rules and expectations for children’s behaviour, including around alcohol.
  • That planning should occur around managing alcohol at teenage parties ahead of time, and parents should support their children in thinking around how to manage alcohol and peer relationships early.
  • Parental knowledge of where their children are, what they are doing, and who they are with also helps to reduce the risk of alcohol-related harm.
  • Parents are strongly encouraged to spend time with their children, and to take an interest in their lives and interests.

More detailed information and advice on how to action these key messages, is available for parents at

Source: Parenting Guidelines for Adolescent Alcohol Use –

By Dr Siobhan Ryan, Clinical Psychologist

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