Archambeau, who overcame a problem with substance abuse and hasn’t used alcohol or other substances in 25 years, started 10 years ago to actively incorporate substance abuse recovery into his own family practice. Other physicians regularly refer patients with substance-abuse concerns to Archambeau.
Because of his own experience, he’s able to relate to substance-abuse patients on a personal level, he says.
A primary reason that parents should not condone drinking for teens is related to brain development. Archambeau says recent studies have shown that brain development is not complete until a person is well into their 20s. Sometime around age 25 is when alcohol or drug use will have the least permanent effect on the brain, he notes.
“An 18-year-old doesn’t think very much like a 28-year-old,” he says. “But a 28-year-old thinks a lot like a 38-year-old.”
Archambeau says the idea that a teen can be taught to drink responsibly by allowing them to drink under adult supervision is flawed, particularly for those –about 8-10 percent of the population—who may have a genetic predisposition to addiction or who may be influenced by other factors, such as childhood trauma, depression or sexual abuse.
Instead of letting teens drink at home, Archambeau advises modeling good behavior.
“By not drinking yourself or being responsible with your drinking, you help instill responsibility in your children,” he says. “Setting a good example for children is essential.”
He also recommends starting with your child an ongoing, age-appropriate conversation about alcohol and drug use.
“Talk with them honestly and openly about it,” he says. “Let them know you’re a resource for them.”
If a parent suspects a child has a problem with alcohol or other substances, Archambeau says there is help.
“There are recovery meetings for teens if the teens are interested in taking part,” he says.
In addition, groups such Al-Anon can provide support to parents who have a child coping with addiction.