It’s hard to talk to your teens and young adults about alcohol and drugs.
But consider this.
Last year, more people died in Virginia of heroin overdose than in car accidents, more than 700 in all. There have been multiple overdoses of high school students in the last few months, high school students like yours. At this point in the opiate epidemic, you also need to talk about heroin and pills.
On graduation day in 2007, West Potomac High School endured the unimaginable tragedy. Two young women who had graduated just hours before died in a car driven by another young woman who had alcohol in her system. The driver and another passenger, a 2005 West Potomac graduate, also died in that crash.
More recently, in June, 2015, Alex Murk and Calvin Li, shortly after graduation from Thomas Wootton High School in Rockville, Maryland, died in a car accident after leaving a party where alcohol was served. The owner of the house where the party took place, the father of the student hosting the party, was fined for knowingly allowing underage drinking. A newly passed law in Maryland, named for Alex and Calvin, means parents who knowingly host underage drinking parties in Maryland could face the possibility of up to a year in jail if an underage drinker leaves their home and is injured or killed in a car crash. The driver recently pled guilty to two counts of vehicular manslaughter.
Summer is the most dangerous time of year for teenagers.
Many teenagers will be celebrating, or possibly self-medicating, with alcohol. Many will engage in binge drinking.
While drinking and driving, or getting into a car with a driver who has been drinking, can kill, there are many other problems that come along with binge drinking. The question of consent and sexual activity looms. Young men and women need to hear from their parents that they are expected to respect the idea of consent, all the more so in circumstances where alcohol or drugs might be involved. The potential consequences are enormous.
Parents owe it to themselves to talk to their teens about it, even as the teen turns away, rolls eyes, and otherwise indicates he or she is ignoring everything you say, some information will go in. They do hear you. They can’t hear what you don’t say.
Keep talking. Tell them you love them. Tell them it's been too much work to get them to this point to risk losing them now. Tell them not to text and drive. Tell them not to drink and drive. Tell them not to get in a car with anyone driving who has been drinking or otherwise under the influence. Tell them to wear their seatbelts.
Tell them you'll come pick them up anytime that they need a safe ride home, with the only consequence that they have to talk to you about it the next day.