October 20, 2021

Is My Teen Drinking? Here’s What Parents Can Look For

SPONSORED CONTENT from Cortland Area Communities That Care

It’s easy to think that your child is not the one drinking alcohol, especially if they are still in middle school. And based on a recent survey, most 7th-12th graders in Cortland County have not used alcohol in the past month. However, it is still essential that you know the warning signs that your child might be drinking so you can have a conversation with them, and address this issue, before they face potentially severe consequences.

To prevent your child from drinking, you can set clear family rules about alcohol use at an early age, and enforce them if you discover that your child is drinking. Talk to your child about the consequences and dangers associated with underage drinking as early as 4th grade.

Our survey data shows us that kids who reported major parental consequences when caught drinking in the past year were less likely to binge drink in the past month compared to kids who had no or minor parental consequences.

Warning Signs

•Smelling alcohol or other unusual smells on your child
•Finding alcohol in their bedroom, backpack, or vehicle
•Changing friends (or not wanting you to be around and meet their friends)
•Changes in behavior at school (skipping class, negative change in grades etc.)
•Not following set family rules
•New irritability, defensive moods, or low energy
•Quitting activities they used to enjoy.
•Physical smptoms of alcohol use such as: bloodshot eyes, disrupted sleep pattern, difficulty concentrating, and slurred speech.

This list is not all inclusive, and many signs of alcohol usage in
teens are very subtle. Some of these behaviors are also typical
of teen development and may not indicate alcohol use at
all. Pay close attention if your teen shows several signs in a
short period of time or if they happen without little warning.

If you discover your child may have a mild or moderate problem
with alcohol, it could be overwhelming and you may feel
you do not have the tools to help them say no in the future. If
that is the case, contact Cortland Prevention Resources
(607-756-8970) and they can schedule a time for your child to
meet with a trained prevention specialist through their free
confidential program Teen Intervene. Teen Intervene promotes
healthy behaviors in teens during 2-3 one hour sessions that
can be done virtually!


1.Pride Surveys. New York State Partnership for Success
Student Survey: Cortland County Grades 7-12. 2019.

2. Make a Difference: Talk to your child about alcohol-Parents.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. https://www.

Visit upstreamparent.org to read these articles and more!