Prevention & Recovery

Doctor's advice: Teens and drinking and driving

Author: Canadian Living

Prevention & Recovery

Doctor's advice: Teens and drinking and driving

This story was originally titled "Your Kids: 12-16 Years" in the August 2009 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!

The situation: What can I tell my teens about the dangers of drinking and driving that they might not know, but might find convincing?

The solution: A common rationalization I hear from kids is, "Well, I can hold my liquor. Not a problem for me." I tell kids that, in fact, the teen brain responds differently to alcohol than the adult brain.

There's scientific evidence that shows that alcohol has less of a somnolent effect on the teenage brain, and a relatively greater negative effect on visual-spatial perception. This is a very dangerous combination: teenagers can drink more and stay awake, yet their ability to drive is more impaired.

Do you or your kids know how many drinks it takes to make an average-size teen drunk? A 100-pound teenage girl needs just two drinks to be legally drunk. A 150-pound boy needs only two and a half drinks. One drink equals a 12-ounce (350 millilitre) beer, five ounces (150 millilitres) of wine (about one average glass of wine) or one shot of liquor.

John Knight is an expert on teens and alcohol, and founder/director of the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at Children's Hospital Boston.

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Prevention & Recovery

Doctor's advice: Teens and drinking and driving

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