This May Be the Best Way to Get Teens to Stay Sober


Trying to get your teens to beat peer pressure and stay sober can be a daunting task. What’s the best way to talk to them about passing up on a Solo cup at a party? Most campaigns against drinking focus on the negative effects of alcohol, but there may be a much more effective approach.

new study suggests that pointing out the benefits of staying sober and providing strategies to handle peer pressure are more effective than the traditional method of simply warning against the dangers of alcohol consumption. Instead of telling teens why drinking is dangerous, share with them why staying sober is a worthwhile choice.

While the participants in this study were college students, drinking habits can develop earlier during teenage years. Participants were more likely to say no to alcohol when they concentrated on the benefits of abstaining, according to the study at the University of Sussex in England. Some of these benefits include having more money and better overall health.

They were also more likely to stay sober if they imagined social situations where they may be offered alcohol and devised strategies for abstaining beforehand.

Lead researcher, Dr. Dominic Conroy, explains:

I think this shows that health campaigns need to be targeted and easy to fit into daily life, but also help support people to accomplish changes in behavior that might sometimes involve ‘going against the grain’, such as periodically not drinking even when in the company of other people who are drinking.

Understanding how to talk to your teen about drinking is essential in helping them to make the right choices. Focus on the benefits of staying sober next time you talk to him or her about alcohol consumption. Try making a list of these benefits together and discuss scenarios and strategies for declining alcohol.

For more information on substance use and other health issues, subscribe to Choices for your teen. Keep an eye out for our binge-drinking story in our upcoming April issue.