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Parent & Child
Summer Brings More Pressure to Drink among Teens: Leading NYC Psychologist and Addiction Expert Offers a Refresher for Parents on Talking to Their Teens About Drinking
By Dr. Stacey Rosenfeld 
Jul 11, 2010, 18:48

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The summer is here and teens often have too much time on their hands when school is not in session. However it isn’t all fun and games. Parties and other events can bring on an increase in drinking among teenagers, says Dr. Stacey Rosenfeld, a New York City-based psychologist in private practice and on staff at Columbia University Medical Center.

According to Dr. Rosenfeld, “Teens can feel more tempted to drink in the summer. School is out, some have graduated, many are at picnics, the beach, barbeques, tailgate parties and at other locales where kids can more easily get away with being underage and are not monitored by adults. Peer pressure is a constant, but without school and with more outdoor festivities, kids tend to be more easily pressured to drink.”

Dr. Rosenfeld says that this is the time of year for parents to re-visit the topic of drinking, and that underage drinking is not only illegal, but it also can have other serious consequences. “Parents should review the information with their kids and not make it a lecture. Make it a conversation and not a re-run of old information or lectures you may have given them when they were younger.”

What to say:
• Be honest and speak to them with respect. Emphasize that you love them and it is your job to keep them safe.
• Remind them that drinking impairs judgment for everyone. No one -- adult or teen -- is excluded or exempt.
• Let them know that intoxication can put them in dangerous situations like drunk-driving and other physical dangers (severe fall, blackouts, dangerous sexual situations)
• Explain to them excessive drinking results in a hangover and there are consequences related to that, such as missing school or work the next morning.
• Discuss long-term damage of drinking and how the body - especially the liver and brain - are deeply impacted and you cannot undo the impact
• Help them navigate peer pressure situations by having a dialogue about how this would play out. Engage in role plays with them. Explain that you understand social drinking among teens is common and seemingly “cool,” but that it does not make it okay or safe.
• Give them creative ways to not give into the pressure like telling friends you want to be the designated driver; you have to get up very early in the morning; you are on a health kick; or, you are on medication and cannot drink.
• Reemphasize that if their friends are pressuring them and not letting up, that it is those friends who have a problem and are uncomfortable with their own drinking.
• Remind them that underage drinking is illegal and if caught, they can damage their future, and you do not want that for them because you love them.


Dr. Stacey Rosenfeld is a licensed clinical psychologist with a private practice in New York City where she sees patients individually, as well as in groups. She is also a staff psychologist at Columbia University Medical Center and the Chief Psychologist for the New York City Triathlon. She specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, addictions, relationships, anxiety and depression, and sports psychology. She has been interviewed by numerous media outlets including the Today Show, The New York Times, Associated Press, Runner’s World, In Touch, Life & Style, Woman’s Day,, WCBS, WFAN, Univision, CW11 News, among others. For more info or to schedule an appointment, visit

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