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Stressed about teen drinking alcohol - any suggestions?

Discussion in 'Parents of Teens' started by kelzer, Jun 11, 2011.

  1. kelzer

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    Hi,
    My son is 16 now, has had type 1 since he was 7 and wears a pump. My husband and I do not drink a lot -wine with dinner some nights. Of course we have talked with him for years about the dangers of drinking alcohol when you have diabetes. Once he hit high school we also gave him the talk about "if you are going to do something you know you shouldn't (ie drink), here is what you need to know - snack while you drink, be honest with us so that we know if we need to test you in the night, etc. Well, he is drinking when he is with his friends (he is a very social kid - always has been). Usually he only has 1 or 2 beers and we thought he was being honest about this but last weekend had about 5 (despite telling his dad it was 2 -it is another story why dad did not realize this....). He vomited and had recurring low blood sugars until noon the next day. No sleep for me, of course. He agrees that it was too much but says that he will not stop drinking. "It's what my friends do". Has anyone had any experience with this? He has always been such an easy kid, behaviour-wise, so I don't want to paint a picture of a difficult kid. However, I am really tired and not looking forward to several more years of not sleeping (there are enough other diabetes and regular life stuff that keeps me up) - plus the worry of his possibly going away to university. Advice welcome.
     
  2. Amy C.

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    That is a tough situation indeed. The invinsible teen.

    All the advice I have heard is to stop at two drinks and to eat more when drinking.

    I think some sit down and explaining what he is doing to his body is in order. What would he have done if you weren't there? He could stop at two drinks -- and may want to now that he has experienced the bad side effects of drinking too much.
     
  3. emm142

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    It is tough. The approach I take with alcohol is to stop drinking if I feel the slightest amount of nausea (seems to have worked - I've never vomited from alcohol) and otherwise to try to stay within limits that seem reasonable (i.e. not drink enough that I feel like I'm compromising on my D care because I'm not thinking clearly). Usually my BGs go high immediately after drinking beer, cider, cocktails, etc., and I do have to bolus for those kind of things (a 15-20 minute prebolus for cider and sugary cocktails or alcopops). Wine and spirits don't affect my BG immediately. As soon as I start drinking I put on a 75% temp basal. I keep that on until I wake up the next morning, and I also have a 15g uncovered snack before going to bed if I've been drinking. My BG generally stays in range overnight if I do that.

    Even with those limits, I only really feel safe drinking if I'm with responsible friends who know I have D and I trust to help me in an emergency, and if I'm wearing the CGMS or testing every 3 hours overnight.

    It's great that your son trusts you enough that you are able to help him with these things. It's a shame that he's drinking excessively sometimes, but he'd be in so much more danger if he was hiding it from you.. try to keep those lines of communication open. :)

    One other thing, in my experience people seem to get way more drunk if they're staying overnight at a friend's house after a party. If you are worried about him drinking excessively, I'd make sure he comes back home to sleep after going out places where he might be drinking.

    All this advice comes with a handful of salt because I understand it's way easier for me to control my own behaviour than it is for you to control your son's...
     
  4. frizzyrazzy

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    if he didn't have diabetes, would drinking at 16 be acceptable to you? I think you need to answer that first. If so, then you need to work with him on strategies. You are still the parent. You still decide if this is acceptable behavior to you.
     
  5. Christopher

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    Good point.

    If it is not acceptable to you, then it is time to crack down and take control. His days of being "social" should be over. You are the parent and you have the responsibility. You say "usually" he has 1 or 2 beers. This makes it sound like it is a recurring thing. A 16 year old child should not be drinking on a recurring basis. "1 or 2 beers" can easily turn into a substance abuse problem. It can also lead to other types of alcohol and drugs. If his friends are drinking, then you tell him he doesn't see those friends any more. Period.

    If a 16 year old child drinking alcohol on a regular basis is OK with you, then you have bigger problems. Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2011
  6. Pauji5

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    I agree with the others.....I don't know what having diabetes has to do with knowingly allowing him to drink alcohol at the age of 16. If that's what he feels he need sto to do hang out with those friends, I would be getting rid of those friends ASAP. You're the parent and it's your house...your rules...

    Aside from getting kicked off all sports teams and clubs in high school, if it were my kid, he'd be grounded indifinetly. And I don't know his situation about driving, be there would be no driver's license either...
     
  7. lil'Man'sMom

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    While I agree with the others about the drinking at 16, I have raised teenagers and it is easier said then done.That being said, you do need to let him know that it is not acceptable and give him consequences (not just the diabetes related ones). Keep giving the consequences every time it happens... follow through, follow through. You can not give in or think it is just 2 or 5 beers, this leads to more and probably is already.
     
  8. emm142

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    I think there are massive cultural differences when it comes to alcohol. I know that people in the US tend to be shocked at the age that people from Europe are generally introduced to alcohol, but we certainly don't all end up with substance abuse problems, and I think it's somewhat naive to assume that the way something is done in your country is definitely the right way to do it.

    I have no idea what the legal age for drinking or cultural attitudes towards drinking are like in Camada, and obviously if the OP is very uncomfortable with her son drinking at all then she should assert that, but I don't think it's right to say that the OP has problems if she allows her 16 year old to have a beer occasionally!
     
  9. Christopher

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    I totally agree that there are wide cultural differences. And I did not say one way is the right way.

    The OP was not talking about a beer occasionally. It seemed that it was more than just one and it was much more often than occasionally. There are many reasons why I don't think it is a good idea for a 16 year old to be drinking alcohol on a constant basis, the major one being the likelihood of drinking and driving. Obviously I don't know the OP's child or their decision making skills. But if it is like many 16 year olds, adding alcohol to the mix will not help.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
  10. Pauji5

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    In the US is it 21. It is against the law to drink alcohol, or serve alcohol to minors.

    If he's out drinking with his friends, are they getting in a car? If he's lying about the number of beers he's had, it doesn't bode well for his common sense about driving and/or getting in a car with someone that has also been drinking.

    If he were home, with his parents and wanted to have a beer, that is a completely different, and personal, story.
     
  11. emm142

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    I was talking about the legal age in Canada, where the OP lives.

    In the UK it is legal to drink from the age of 5 in the home (with parental supervision), from 16 in a restaurant with a meal and adults in the group, and from 18 otherwise.

    I don't believe that being irresponsible about drinking necessarily equates to being irresponsible about drink-driving. There's a huge difference between endangering your own health and endangering the lives of others.

    Obviously, I wouldn't say that the OP shouldn't punish her son for drinking 5 beers and lying about it. I was more responding to the comments which implied that she was wrong for allowing her son to drink anything regularly.
     
  12. RomeoEcho

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    I would be careful about makihng this about diabetes with him. Yes, there are additional risks and considerations to drinking with diabetes vs without diabetes. But this is true of lots of things in life. Diabetes doesnt mean he cant drink or even get drunk occasionally, as a responsible adult. But diabetes also doesnt mean house rules and federal laws dont apply to him. he needs to learn how to drink safely at some point but it doesnt have to be practiced today. Treat him like you would any other 16 year old who is breaking your rules.

    As a side note, my endo taught me as an early teen about alcohol and while I did not use it right away his openness and honesty went a long way with me. Alcohol was never forbtidden because of diabetes but for all the normal reasons. And like anyone else i learned that overdrinking hurts and thats why I dont do it not because I have a broken pancreas. Your mileage will vary but I found it far more effective then making it a restriction because I had diabetes. However if he ever needs to get out of an awkward social situation, it's a common misconception that diabetics can't drink, so he can use it that way if it helps.
     
  13. nanhsot

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    I don't have a problem with my teens having a bit of wine, and learning to appreciate the subtleties and pleasure of good wines and such when they are with us. We have actually taught our kids to sniff wine, know what they are tasting, etc (we're wine snobs who are currently broke so it's a tough habit to break!).

    I agree with how Europeans approach it actually, and it's a different issue.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
  14. Christopher

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    Unless they live in Manitoba, it is illegal for him to consume alcoholic beverages. So unless his parents want to teach him that breaking the law is OK, they should not let him drink.
     
  15. nanhsot

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    I agree with prior replies, I would separate the issue of drinking from diabetes FIRST, and clarify what your rules/guidelines are. THEN I would talk to him about how drinking affects his diabetes after you have had a frank and honest discussion about your concerns.

    Would you be fine with him drinking regularly at this age if he were not diabetic? Particularly considering that he and the friends he is drinking with are driving? Yes, kids experiment at that age and some of this is to be expected, but regular ongoing drinking with friends at 16 would concern me greatly and would make me tighten the reins a bit.

    It's a different world than we grew up in, and the consequences of drinking and driving particularly while underage are higher. This can affect his entire future, if he or his friends don't kill or injure someone while driving in the meantime. I'm being brutally honest here, I work in rehab and have worked with many head injured individuals, this is reality that I would want him to confront. Drinking even 1 or 2 beers every time he's with friends would not really be something I'd encourage or condone, and for him to say he's not going to stop would be a red flag of concern for me, particularly about the people he's spending time with.

    After I laid down some rules regarding that, I would educate regarding diabetes, but it wouldn't be ME doing it, it would be someone older who has lived with diabetes a long time.

    My son experimented some last summer, but at camp they did a lot of open and honest talk about drinking and diabetes and he came home with a more clear picture of the risks he was taking, which was good.

    Do his friends understand the risks? My son has a close friend who is older, and I do worry about him exposing him to some things, so I confronted it directly and educated the kid directly about what it meant for my son to drink. I want him to know and understand what to do, what to look for, and to realize the risks. I do realize this won't be possible as he gets older, but I think it is vitally important that at least some of their friends understand what the issues are and how they are different for him.

    Raising teenagers isn't easy, and I'm feeling my way day by day. I won't claim to have answers, and I'm right here with you trying to figure it all out. Good luck.
     
  16. Mimi

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    The legal drinking age in Ontario is 19. It is not illegal for him to drink alcohol in his parents home served by his parents. (I know this is not what the OP's post was about...just sayin').

    I think this is a difficult situation with a teen with diabetes. I admire the honest, open communication the OP and her son have ~ he did admit to drinking which if it were my teen I would want to continue to keep those communication lines open, d or not, but especially with d so at times when my teen had been drinking he/she was comfortable enough to let me know so that I can take the proper steps to ensure his/her safety.

    To the OP, I don't have a teen with d so I'm not qualified to give advice but I just wanted to again say that I admire the way your son is communicating with you and I hope you are able to come to a resolution that continues this and ensures his safety. :cwds:
     
  17. Lee

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    Well, as a former teen drinker :rolleyes: I know that I never exhibited self-control and often lied to my parents about it - often as in OFTEN - one or two meant five or six. I mean, you really have no way of knowing how much he has had to drink, other then his word, which he has already proven to be something you cannot trust in this situation.

    In reality, he is drinking, frequently, at 16. This is not a D problem, it is a parenting problem. As parents, we have to draw a lie in the sand - we have to say THIS is what I expect. If you do not obey, there will be consequences. Teens will continually try and push and cross that line in the sand. As parents, we have to keep that line firm and follow through with the consequences.

    You line in the sand was it is ok to go out with your friends and have one or two beers. Of course he tested that, that is his job as a teenager.

    You need to rethink your line in the sand.
     
  18. caspi

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    As the parent of an almost 16 year old (non-D but I don't think that's important in this issue) I never like to make statements such as my kid would never do this, never do that, etc. However, that said, I will be honest with you and say that if I found out my 16 year old was drinking, I would not condone it in any way, shape or form. Yes our kids are going to make mistakes but what your child is doing is illegal, plain and simple. I'm not judging you at all, but just stating the facts. :cwds:
     
  19. wilf

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    It sounds like you may be living in a dream world (common to parents of children who are not yet teens) where it is assumed that parents have 100% control over the actions of their teens.

    At age 16 here in Canada, the OP's son can leave home with some modest difficulty now and with no difficulty at all at age 18 (in less than 2 years). If he says he will not stop drinking beer then the parent can say "You Must Stop!", but needs to be prepared to fight what may be a losing battle if the son decides to continue.

    Better to my mind to seek an open and honest discussion of what is happening and why. Parenting a teen in my experience (both as a former teen and now as a parent) involves building a relationship of trust, listening to one another, and negotiating.

    At age 16 I was an A student, had a solid part time job, a good circle of friends, and I drank beer. :eek: Frequently. :eek:

    This did not make me a bad person, it did not set me up for a life of alcoholism or drug abuse, and in fact was just one way of rebelling against authority. My parents disapproved, let me know they disapproved, but did not waste their time trying to force me to not do something I was determined to do. Thirty-five years later I am a successful scientist, husband, and father. I still drink beer. :eek: And I would continue to do so, even if it were illegal. :eek:

    I don't believe every law makes sense or should be followed. Prohibition and the "War on Drugs" are classic examples of silly ideas enshrined in unenforceable laws, which ultimately backfired completely and caused far more damage than that they were meant to prevent.

    To the OP I would suggest that there are big moral questions around this issue that can be the subject of very interesting and positive discussions with your son. Engage him, build on the good relationship you have with him, and see if you can find out what he is thinking.

    I would not primarily treat this as a D-related matter, but as a parenting matter.

    On the diabetes side (I would not discuss this at the time I discussed the above issues), you need to make sure he knows what he needs to do to stay safe. You need to let him know that if not for your intervention that night he could have suffered seizures or worse as a direct consequence of his drinking. What he did was not safe, in fact it was plain stupid from the perspective of D management. But it's a separate matter to my mind, and I would deal with it as such.. :cwds:
     
  20. Christopher

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    I am not living in a dream world. It is against the law for her son to drink alcohol. It is a bad idea for a 16 year old to regularly be drinking alcohol. I don't think they should allow it. Their house, their rules.

    If you would choose to break the law and presumably teach your children to break the law, that is your choice. But let's remember, this is not about you, or me. It is about the OP so let's stay on topic. And I do agree with you that it is important to try and have a dialogue with your teen. However, at the same time, as a parent, you need to role model appropriate behaviors and set clear, firm limits.

    To the OP, I hope you find a way to get through to your son before something bad happens. Good luck.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2011

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