I speak to large audiences about making good choices when it comes to underage drinking. Ask Me Anything!

Doug Petit
Aug 29, 2018

I generally speak to high school teens, but sometimes I speak to adult audiences. Parents and Teens Together 

I talk about the perils of underage drinking and the sometimes tragic consequences of poor choices. The hope is to connect with at least one person in the audience who may change their behaviour regarding the use of alcohol, or drugs. 

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Parents should lead by example. Do you think they should never drink in front of their kids? Will this stop kids from consuming alcohol?
Aug 31, 12:42PM EDT0

For me, my family drank. They drank alot and they liked it. They still do. I went to a family reunion recently and the alcohol flowed. The generation older than me, my generation (except me) and the generation younger all drank. I certainly think the signal sent from one generation to the next is that drinking is the normal life and not the exception. 

As for stopping kids from drinking if you don't drink....not necessarily. There are other temptations. I think this is true for all addictions. There are other factors at play. Peer pressure is one example. Some of us may just start hanging out with the wrong crowd.

I think it is so very important, as you pointed out in your opening statement, that parents should lead by example. The impact they have not only affects their child; it quite easily may impact how their child raises their grandchild when they themselves become a mom or a dad. We pass on our behaviors and habits to a great extent.

Positive Alternatives

Aug 31, 4:00PM EDT0
How can family members and friends support their loved one, both during alcohol rehab and after transitioning home?
Aug 31, 10:08AM EDT0

Professional's are trained on how to help the family members and friends manage the support system. Addiction has been a problem for generations and people have come to learn how to help their loved ones. I know that usually the same place that is helping the addict can also help the addict's family deal with the problems they may incur.

Be Well...

Positive Alternatives

Aug 31, 4:03PM EDT0
What can parents do to empower a child to enter treatment if they do not want to go?
Aug 31, 9:58AM EDT0

Put love front and center. Love conquers every roadblock. Talk to a professional, not me....I'm certainly not that. But I do know there are people who are educated and who care that can counsel the parent on exactly how to steer the child toward treatment.

You can find them in any community. Online or in the telephone directory. Most police departments have social workers on staff who maintain confidentiality in their conversations. Perhaps a local church might know of a professional you could talk to.

Oh yeah...did I mention LOVE? It really works.

Positive Alternatives

Aug 31, 4:22PM EDT0
College is about to begin and many kids will go away from home, many of them will begin to experiment with alcohol in parties. What can parents do to minimize the influence of alcohol in their lives when they are out of their reach and care?
Aug 31, 7:32AM EDT0

"Minimize" is the best you can do, I'm afraid. FIrst off, the family expectations have to clearly established. Grades might be monitored as well. If you're footing the bill, you should be able to check in on your investment. College life is a bit tougher than high school but good students should be able to maintain good grades if proper effort is applied.

Some level of contact should be maintained too. They are young adults so their freedom should be respected but, checking in is not out of bounds by any means. Phone calls, e-mails, or a quick IM...all good.

There comes a time when you have to let your child go and let them live their life. You are consigned to a new role....to be there when they need you. You reinforce that to them in conversation and in action....you are their for them when they need you. You hope all of the teaching over the first 18 years serves them well when temptation comes knocking.

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Aug 31, 4:16PM EDT0

I like your advocacy, cos you're helping a lot of lives to be changed,what is the reason you choosed these advocacy?

Aug 31, 12:29AM EDT1

Hi Donna...to be honest I did not choose this advocacy. It chose me when our first born child died after attending an underage drinking party and then losing his precious life. Some people reached out to me to see if I would speak at High Schools about our family's loss. I started in 2007 and have been on this path since that time.  Be Well....

Positive Alternatives

Last edited @ Aug 31, 4:05PM EDT.
Aug 31, 3:50PM EDT0
How long have you been doing your podcast and what have been the most satisfying moments of your journey?
Aug 30, 4:06PM EDT1

Thanks for the question. I started the Podcast this past April. A friend of mine called me an Agile Careerist. I thought that was pretty cool. I can't imagine being retired as I now am and watching TV all day long. Get up, get out, and contribute!

The most satisfying moments of my journey are the Thank You(s). Be it for a speech, helping out at a charity for someone else, or when we award our annual scholarship. It truly is better to give than receive. Be Well!

Positive Alternatives

Last edited @ Aug 30, 4:25PM EDT.
Aug 30, 4:25PM EDT1
Should teens be allowed to drink in controlled environments (such as family gatherings) in order for them to know what their personal drinking limits are?
Aug 30, 10:38AM EDT1

In a word, NO. Bad idea. The human brain between the ages of 14-24 or 25 is not a place for alcohol or drugs. The plasticity of the human brain at this age can be too easily fooled into soon needing the insidious alcohol or the drug to get through the day. What a waste! The booze can take control of the most precious thing we each have, our life. 

Another thought is this....what example do you set for the teens when they become parents? Do they, in turn, provide "controlled" drinking settings for their own children when they become parents. Life after 21 goes on for 55-60, or more years. Plenty of time to drink alcohol if they by now adult brain decides to do so. And....much less likely to have long term health problems related to alcohol.

Positive Alternatives

Aug 30, 3:35PM EDT1
How often are teenagers drinking and driving? What do you believe is an appropriate punishment for this?
Aug 30, 9:56AM EDT1

In my county they are drinking and driving way too much. I speak to first time offenders monthly and we always have a full-house. The false belief is that it's always the other person who gets caught...until the red lights come on behind you.

I like the suspension of the license by the Secretary of State and the high fines for the first offense by the Courts. In our county the teens tell me the first time DUI can cost them $10,000 or more when they include increase insurance, lawyer fees, fines, etc. Ouch!

Positive Alternatives

Aug 30, 3:41PM EDT1
What are the statistics of teen drunk-driving vs drunk-driving in adults?
Aug 30, 5:19AM EDT1

In shear numbers, of course the adult drivers have higher overall total numbers of DUIs. As far as the problem of fatalities of DUIs, the percentage of teens who die in alcohol related crashes is higher thatn adult drivers. The good news is the numbers for teen DUIs and alcohol related fatalities are dropping. It looks like the message is getting through. Now if we could only get smarter about not texting and driving!

Positive Alternatives

Aug 30, 3:48PM EDT1
If laws were more open to teen drinking like in other countries how do you think the issues around teen drinking would change?
Aug 30, 2:20AM EDT1

I was waiting for this question. It is such a false notion that other countries are doing it better than we are here. The long term alcohol problems we see in Europe, for example, can be directly attibuted to this supposed trained drinking. The problems in those countries for long term health problems attibuted to alcohol are far worse than ours. 

The human brain does not need to have alcohol introduced to it at a young age. The fact is this, the longer one can delay the onset of alcohol use the better chance they have of avoiding alcohol problems later in life. When I go to court and see some tired old guy or worn down old lady shuffle up to the judge for a DUI charge and I look at the Court Report and see they are 10, 15, or more years younger than I am.....well....the problem without question is the long term self abuse of alcohol. They no doubt started young and eventually the alcohol took over the life. So sad to see...

Positive Alternatives

Aug 30, 3:28PM EDT1
What are the best strategies to talk to teenagers about peer pressure and how to ignore it?
Aug 30, 1:06AM EDT1

Clearly and directly set family expectations. Love is the rule of the day. Let your teen know you will pick them up from any situation they might find overwhelms them - peer pressure wise. Have a code word they can text you that lets you know to call them and pick them up. They can easily tell their friends that the parents called, they have to go. Let them make the parents the bad guy.

Know their friends. Some suggest the best plan is to have the party at your home. That way you can monitor the party and get a better feel for the friends that hang out with. If you feel you can handle the party, I say go for it! Just know that teens are pretty smart and they know all of the tricks.

Positive Alternatives

Aug 30, 3:21PM EDT1
Do you think Government should issue more laws regarding drinking restriction for underage citizens?
Aug 30, 12:12AM EDT1

One thing that concerns me is online home delivery of alcohol. I don't think that's a good idea. It is something I have to study to see if it's a real problem or something that is not a concern. I don't know enough about it as I write here today.

As for writing more laws; I think the laws in place today are sound. I just believe that the teens have to make better, healthier decisions and parents have to clearly set family expectations. I think this approach would be much more effective.

Positive Alternatives

Aug 30, 3:14PM EDT1
How do you help a teenager who's having a drinking problem if you know one of their parents also have an addiction problem?
Aug 29, 10:56PM EDT1

Tough, tough question. The teen has a right to have a great life. We all do.

I think the teen can first admit they have a problem and then seek help on thier own, with the other parent, with a family member, or a good friend helping them out. The addicted parent has to fix themsleves before they can be of any kind of support. 

Getting right, getting one's life back, I think there has to be strong support. Love is the best answer for addiction and love sometimes has to step up in a strong manner and light the way. It can be tough to be the only one doing the heavy lifting so make sure there is a strong familial, or friend(s), support system dedicated to helping their loved one out.

Positive Alternatives

Aug 30, 3:55PM EDT1
How effective is locking up alcohol in the home?
Aug 29, 8:37PM EDT1

Good comment! I think both locking and monitoring would be effective. Teens visit other homes, they visit your home. Keeping the alcohol under lock and key is a terrific way to ensure the teens are not sneaking the alcohol from your supply. Marking a line on the bottle, for example, will tell you if your system is secure.

One is not only helping their own teen; they are helping any teen who visits the home. And as another thought; locking up those prescription drugs is also a good policy to follow.

Positive Alternatives

Aug 30, 3:09PM EDT1
What should be said to teenagers to help them make good choices? How should the conversation go?
Aug 29, 7:22PM EDT1
What are the signs to notice when a teenager is having problems with alcohol?
Aug 29, 3:16PM EDT1

No one knows their teen better than Mom and Dad. If you see a change in friends, quitting sports or other activities they enjoy like band, the arts, etc., and if the grades begin to slip you might want to take a good look at the cause. Alcohol, or other drugs, might be the culprit.

Other signs like moodiness, negative attitude, or wanting to sneak around the house may also raise red flags....although moodiness alone may not be drugs and alcohol...it might just be the teen being a teen. Never, ever think it won't happen to "my kid". It's much, much better to be safe than sorry.

Positive Alternatives

Aug 29, 4:03PM EDT1
How do parents build resilience and self-esteem in their teenage kids so they won't use alcohol as an escape?
Aug 29, 2:37PM EDT1

Family conversations are a good start. Many teens feel disconnected and they end up getting what they need as far as support from those who will never love them like mom and dad. Parents need to parent and take the lead in this challenging conversation that I think you are wisely addressing in your question.

No one knows the teen like mom and dad. I think keeping your teen active in extra-curricular activites ...sports, arts, music, etc. is a wonderful way to do it. If your school does not offer what your teen needs check out your local park district. 

Parents also have to come out and support the activity your teen gets involved in. Go to the game, the play, the concert. Share in the experience. You can't go wrong being the face in the crowd your teen sees when they perform.

Positive Alternatives

Aug 29, 2:58PM EDT1
Which organizations do you recommend to take children to learn more about underage drinking?
Aug 29, 8:05AM EDT1

I think the best organizations are the local services who are vested in the success of your children. I am sure there are a few in your area if you google "underage drinking". Around us in the Chicago area we have the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute and SADD (a Nationwide program) to name a couple.

I especially like the groups that are primarily run by teens with adult mentors who guide the program. The teens do the bulk of the work and connecting and I think that can be effective.Parents can consider reaching out to their school and asking them to bring speakers into the school to share information. Many schools already do this; especially around Homecoming, Prom, and Red Ribbon Week. I am always busy on these dates speaking to students.

Positive Alternatives

Aug 29, 3:07PM EDT1
What are the positive outcomes of lowering the legal drinking age?
Aug 29, 3:26AM EDT1

Hi... I can't think of one positive outcome we would see as a result of lowering the drinking age. With what we know about the brain development in humans and how alcohol use inhibits fulfillment of that brain development it is pretty easy to see we are better served to delay the onset of drinking alcohol. This is best for the growth of the individual and for the growth of our society.

Positive Alternatives

Aug 29, 2:51PM EDT1
What are some of the most tragic consequences brought by underage drinking that you have known of?
Aug 28, 9:54PM EDT1

The reason I step up and do this is because our oldest son went to an underage drinking party and he did not survive. We lost him a little over 13 years ago. 

Aug 28, 9:57PM EDT1