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Lincoln Daily News
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Parents, talk to your children

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To the editor:

April is National Alcohol Awareness Month. So parents, talk to your children about alcohol before they get misinformation from someone else. National studies show that their curiosity leads to experimentation with alcohol around age 11. No matter how old or young your children are, they want to hear what you have to say, so help to shape their thinking with good, honest information.

Alcohol is the No. 1 drug of choice among teens. When a person begins drinking, inhibitions are lowered. The brain is not able to make decisions, think critically or respond quickly enough when a life-or-death situation occurs. Since alcohol acts as a depressant, it decreases the activity of the nervous system. The liver attempts to filter out the toxins found in alcohol, and over time diseases such as hepatitis or cirrhosis may occur. Alcohol use also affects the heart, especially binge drinking (having five or more "standard" drinks in a row for men, and four or more in a row for women). Binge drinking can lead to health risks such as hemorrhagic stroke, high blood pressure and increased risk for heart muscle disease.

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Be aware of the signs that your child is experimenting with alcohol or is at risk of doing so. Here are a few warning signs that may indicate a need for concern: change of friends; carelessness about personal appearance; decline in participation at home or in favorite activities, hobbies and sports; irritability (avoids family contact); lack of appreciation for values that used to be important; or secretive phone calls and lying.

Here are a few suggestions for prevention and early intervention: listen carefully, encourage choice, provide age-appropriate information, be a good example and know your child's friends.

Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Task Force

Contact person: Jenna Hellmann, health educator, Logan County Health Department

[Posted April 16, 2008]

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