When an adolescent/teen chooses to drink alcohol they could face a variety of consequences.

Alcohol can cause serious physical damage, from hangovers to death from alcohol poisoning. It is estimated that 5,000 people under age 21 die every year from alcohol-related injuries from traffic fatalities, suicides and homicides. Underage drinking increases risky sexual behavior, including unwanted, unintended, and unprotected sexual activity. Such behavior increases the risk for unplanned pregnancy and for contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Finally alcohol can damage the developing teenage brain.

Research shows that children are less likely to drink alcohol if their parents consistently set clear rules and consequences for breaking them. Have you set your rules?

The Consequence of No Consequences

The Consequence of No Consequences

Some suggestions to keep in mind when setting rules and consequences for your kids and alcohol:

Be a Parent, Not a Friend.

When parents monitor, supervise and set boundaries their teens are at a lowered risk for using drugs and alcohol.

Consequences: Health & Future.

Make sure your tween/teen knows the serious and possible long term consequences of alcohol to their health and future. And be certain to highlight how it could negatively impact college acceptances.

Set Expectations.

Make it clear that you do not want your child drinking alcohol and that you trust them not to.

Set Rules.

Set firm but reasonable rules such as curfew, expecting to be notified when plans change and knowing at all times where your teen will be.

Talk Consequences.

Tell your kids (more than once) the consequences of alcohol use, both legal and medical, and be clear about what you will do if the rules regarding this are broken.

Get the facts.

It is easy to react out of that fear, frustration, and anger, but you can do harm to your connection if you accuse your child of wrongdoing without actual proof.


Every so often, discuss your family rules and expectations. Acknowledge peer pressure and take it to the next step by doing some problem solving. For example, “What are you going to do if you are out with your friends and someone offers you alcohol?”

Be Clear & Concise.

Tell your kids that underage drinking is not a teen rite of passage and is not an excusable teen experience. Clearly state that in fact everyone is not using alcohol.

The Family Impact.

Be specific about the consequences your teen and their bad decisions have upon the family as a whole, especially the impact on their younger siblings who often look to them as how to act.

One of the most important things about consequences is to use them as a response to your child’s behavior, not to your child themselves. Show respect and caring, all kids (teens too) need to feel your love. This way your child will know that they are precious and safe – even when you’re using consequences.

Visit our helpful resources in the parent tool kit to get support in setting rules and repercussions for kids.

Gain Resources

Parent Toolkit

Useful tips and tools to support your conversation regarding alcohol and your children



Find Help: 1-877-8-HOPENY

Call 1-877-846-7369 or text HOPENY, the New York State HopeLine, offering hope 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for alcoholism, drug abuse, and problem gambling. All calls/texts are toll-free, anonymous, and confidential.