Smart Technology to Safeguard Against Teen Drinking

In 2008, an estimated 12.4% of persons ages 12 or older drove under the influence of alcohol at least once during the past year. The rate was highest among persons ages 21-25 (26.1%).SAMHSA

In 2008, 11,773 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one third (32%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. NHTSA

Alcohol use remains extremely widespread among today’s teenagers. Nearly three quarters of students (72%) have consumed alcohol (more than just a few sips) by the end of high school, and more than a third (37%) have done so by eighth grade. NIDA

The statistics strike a feeling of helplessness so deep in my heart. How am I going to make sure my kids come home safe every night? My two youngest are still a few years away from high school, but I remember quite clearly the nights that I stayed up waiting for my oldest daughter to come home. We had a deal based on a saying I have: "Nothing good happens between 12 and 2." If she wasn't home by midnight and couldn't drive home safely, she was to stay put...

I'd deal with her in the morning.

That tactic stopped her from driving drunk, not necessarily from drinking. There was only so much I could do to control all drinking. I didn't really want her consuming alcohol and losing her ability to think clearly, especially around peers that might have less common sense than she had, but if I didn't know that she had been drinking, it would be unreasonable to punish her. On nights that she did go out, I'd call and check on her every hour or so... see if she was safe... but unless she was binge drinking, she probably wouldn't sound tipsy, so it wasn't much of an exact science to make those calls. I did restrict some going out, but that resulted in so many frustrating arguments that went around in exhausting circles. Unfortunately, those were my only ways to safeguard against her drinking and doing something stupid. There wasn't any way for parents to confirm a kid's sobriety while they were away from home.

Now there is.

I was asked to check out this new product from Soberlink. Being a mom who doesn't like to control every waking moment, yet still wants to ensure that her kids have consequences for their bad decisions, I found myself thinking how this device might have spared me so many anxious nights 5 or 6 years ago.

I always imagine all the things that could happen in an instant. One bad decision could result in irreversible tragedies. Now, I can imagine how this device could prevent any unfortunate events in our life or the lives of our friends and their children.

A friend suggested that this device would be more accepted by the teen in question if it wasn't part of a punishment, rather part of the whole going-out-with-friends thing. I thought that was an excellent point. Setting up a reasonable interval to "report in" to parents while they are out could be a natural part of growing up responsibly, just as so many of us had to learn to do something that comes natural to us now, but was not just a few decades ago... buckling up.

Do you have kids? Would you be comfortable including the Soberlink device as part of your teen's eventual routine? How would you best introduce the testing to your teen?

Posted on September 30, 2011 and filed under Family, Lifestyle.