Elk River Teen Treatment Program

Halloween parties can present scary scenarios for teens

Underage Drinking on Halloween

October 31, 2023

Halloween is an occasion to attend or host a party and no one wants to be part of a social group more than teenagers. Parties often include alcohol - permitted or not. The need to want to “fit in” might sway your teen to participate in underage drinking.

Halloween is a perfect occasion to remind your teen to live and breathe AIR: Accountability, Integrity and Responsibility, a theme that runs consistently at Elk River Treatment Program, a residential program for struggling teens.

Questions a parent might ask their teenager before they leave the house:

Q. Will you hold yourself and others accountable for their actions?

A. Simply acknowledging a character flaw doesn't excuse the behavior. "That's just the way I am," is not a reason or excuse for behaviors. Coach your teenager on how to appropriately call a friend out on their bad behavior. Also, practice accountability by admitting when YOU are wrong and demonstrate how you make things right.

Q. Are you willing to demonstrate integrity even when your friends do not?

A. There is much to be said about the quote: Do the right thing even when no one is watching. Examples of integrity include simply following the rules of society, standing up for someone who may never have the opportunity to return the favor, refuse to participate in gossip, and always be honest.

Q. Are you taking responsibility for your mistakes and correcting them in a timely manner?

A. Children should be taught at a young age to accept responsibility for their mistakes, AND learn from them so not to repeat them. Responsibility is looking out for your family and friends, being trustworthy and dependable.

Underage Drinking is Public Health Problem

Parents should be aware that underage drinking is a significant public health problem in the U.S.

Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 3,900 deaths and 225,000 years of potential life lost among people under age 21 each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

So, how can parents help their teenager resist peer pressure to drink alcohol?

  • Give them the information they need to avoid alcohol, but do not use scare tactics. Adults lose credibility when they exaggerate the facts. Encourage your child to ask questions and answer them frankly.
  • Be available to pick them up if they call – no questions asked. Often a young person will remain at a party rather than risk the social stigma of leaving early.
  • Practice role playing situations that might arise.
  • Remind your child of what is expected of them. Halloween is not an excuse to ignore house or society rules.
  • Lock up your own liquor – especially if the party is at your house.

Alternatives to Attending Parties Where Alcohol Might Be Present

  • Help your teen organize their own party
  • Encourage your teen to escort their younger sibling or a neighbor’s child trick or treating. This might give them an excuse to dress up themselves.
  • Attend a church-based Halloween function.
  • Host a “scary movie night” and make it a family tradition.
  • Host a game night for your child and their friends. Have prizes for winners.
  • Go bowling.
  • If city ordinances permit, host a bonfire with apple cider, s’mores, etc.
  • Have a pumpkin carving contest.

Also, remember that you are modeling behavior for your children. Studies show that a 5% increase in binge drinking among adults in a community is associated with a 12% increase in the chance of underage drinking. – CDC