One of the best prevention strategies for alcohol abuse in minors is to make sure that teens and other underage individuals are occupied with adult supervision during hours they might otherwise spend alone. After school and on the weekends are times when teens might go with discretionary time on their hands. A great way to make sure that your teen has something to do (with accountability to responsible adults) after school and on weekends is to encourage them to spend their time in extracurricular activities that they enjoy.
The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism had this to say about extracurricular activities:
About 40 percent of adolescents’ waking hours are discretionary-not committed to such activities as eating, school, homework, chores, or working for pay-and many young adolescents spend virtually all of this time without companionship or supervision by responsible adults (Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development 1992). Discretionary time outside of school represents an enormous potential for either desirable or undesirable behaviors, such as alcohol and other drug use. Several studies have found that young adolescents who are more likely to be without adult supervision after school have significantly higher rates of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use than do adolescents receiving more adult supervision (Mulhall et al. 1996; Richardson et al. 1993).
Help your teens and other children find activities that are fun, social, and presided over by responsible adults that you trust. Great ideas are martial arts, youth leadership programs, volunteer opportunities, sports, and tutoring opportunities. Don’t leave your child alone when they could be spending their valuable after-school and weekend hours growing their minds, relationships with friends, and building up their confidence in meaningful activity!