You Caught Your Teenager Drinking, Now What?


You thought you were on top of things as a parent.  You talked to your teen many times about drinking. Then you find out they’ve been drinking. What do you do? Here are 5 steps to take in response to underage drinking.

1. Don’t react in anger. With as few words as possible, let them know that you know about it. Then be silent.  Give it a day for you to calm down and for your teen to think about it.

2. When you’re calm, sit down with your teen and ask open-ended questions to determine why they were drinking.  This is a heart issue and you need to understand what’s going on inside. Maybe it was curiosity, peer pressure, a means of escape, an identity or image issue, or flat out rebellion.  If your child doesn’t want to talk, let them know that you’ll just sit there with them until they discuss it with you.

3. Help your teenager develop right thinking about alcohol.  Communicate to your teen that:

  • Alcohol is a depressant and, if they are down or depressed about something, it will only make matters worse.
  • It is illegal for anyone to buy or possess alcohol until 21 years of age. People who have been drinking while driving can have their driver’s license suspended, be subjected to heavy fines, or have their car permanently taken away. If they hurt or kill someone else while being under the influence, they will live with it for the rest of their lives and may even be sent to prison.
  • Alcohol use by teenagers is a strong predictor of pre-marital sexual activity which can lead to pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and emotional baggage. Teens that use alcohol have higher rates of both academic problems and poor performance than non-drinkers.  Also, more than 67% of young people who start drinking before the age of 15 will try an illicit drug.  Children who drink are more than 22 times more likely to use marijuana and 50 times more likely to use cocaine than children who never drink.

4. Talk about consequences and your future expectations.  Now is the time to circle the wagons and bring your teen closer to you and closer to home.  Start by letting them know the consequences of their actions. Those consequences might include things like losing the privilege of their phone or computer for anything other than school. Going out on weekends or revoking driving privileges may also be appropriate.   And when they are at home, do your best to be there with them to just hang out together.   Also, share with your child that just as bad company corrupts good character, good company builds good character. Help your child understand that who they associate with is very, very important and that you expect them to start making wiser choices in that area.

5. Stay on top of it.  This is not a one-time discussion; it’s an ongoing dialogue. It’s not simply handing out some consequences and then forgetting about it. When your child does leave the house, always make sure that you know who your child is with, where they are going, and what they are doing.  You need to know their G.P.S. Have them check in with you on a regular basis. Your teen ultimately needs to understand that they have breached your trust and this is part of the process for them to earn your trust once again.

So what have you done or what would you do if you caught your teenager drinking?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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  • DawnDHartley37

    It is easier said then done to stay calm, but I would remember the good Lord and how he would want us to teach our children, but not be harsh in words with our children. We need to listen to them and hear what they have to say, and I know at times I am guilty of not doing this with my 12 year old child. I pray every day that I will be the Mother that is pleasing to God! After I listen to my child, then I would explain to them the consequences and what will happen if they ever do it again. Then reassure them that you are just looking out for their well-being and you have their best interest at heart. Even if they don’t believe that right now, they will one day remember those words! 

  • danny

    Are you serious that is so stupid your teen got drunk im 17 I drink casually and have many friends who do the same. Before you over react and make them check in every hour, think. you will
    them to rebel if it was out of curiosity ask if they enjoyed it if they did as if they are going to do it again if they say yes make sure they understand the physical and emotional consequences of their actions when your sure they understand leave it up to them its all about moderation

  • Surina

    This very night I am dealing with this dilemma. I write this as my 14 year old daughter lay passed out on the couch and her friend in her bedroom in the same situation. I heard the girls laughing and enjoying themselves just hours ago. I then heard silence and figured they fell asleep. But found it strange they kept going to the bathroom so often. So I went up to check on them and sure enough, there was the stentch of booze and a sink full of vomit. I went to her room, and woke her up. I wanted her to fully enjoy her experience of drunkenness. Made her come down the stairs, sit on the couch and talk with me. She could barely sit up straight. I am saddened to see her this way. As I spoke to her she wept, asked if I hated her and if this will affect her learning. I assured her that I loved her and that this could have a negative effect on her education if she hasn’t learned a valuable lesson from this experience. She wept some more. Tomorrow morning, I will drive her friend home and speak with her mother. I will hold my daughter accountable as the liquor was in our home. If the tables were turned, I’d expect the same. My daughter will be adequately punished. I take this seriously as this could lead to addiction.

  • Kaleigh

    Surina, I am saddened with you but I’m so encouraged by the way you handled the situation. With love and grace. I’m hoping and praying your daughter will learn from this situation.

  • Layla

    Surina – Sounds like you handled it well. I remember how disappointed I was when I found out my kids had been drinking. I know I would have appreciated a conversation with the other mother. We moms need to be diligent about getting on our knees and praying for our kids (, as well as those who may not have anyone interceding for them.

  • Lynn Polizzi

    Yeah ok. Your an idiot.

  • Cheryl

    Really!! That’s the way you talk to a 17 year old!! Here we are talking about alcohol abuse and now you add verbal abuse!

  • Kent Bartley

    The bottom line is IT IS ILLEGAL. Whether he is doing it in moderation or going out and getting hammered it is still NOT OKAY

  • RealisticParent

    Beat their butt with a belt. Make them feel the pain so htey know you are not messing around. Calm conversation sends the message you are soft and you will lkely bend next time they do it. This is where the road to heroin addiction begins. Truth.