How much is the right amount to drink when you’re out to have a good time? Do you know how many drinks you need so you’re happy and relaxed—but not wasted, sick, or out of control?
I call this middle ground your “happy buzz.” It’s where you’re feeling the positive effects of alcohol (a little looser, say) without being so impaired that you’re a danger to yourself and others. Not only are you less likely to be hung over, there’s also less risk of sexual behavior you might regret.
This concept is particularly useful for teens and young adults, who may not know their own drinking limits and who may get into sexual or other trouble when things go too far. They may enjoy the feeling of a “free pass”—thinking that they’re not really responsible for their behavior (especially sexual behavior), and won’t be judged by their peers, because they were trashed.
Of course, most parents would prefer their kids not drink at all. But the reality is that many do. It’s also true that many teen sexual assaults and a lot of poor decision-making involve alcohol. Explain to your child the benefits of waiting to start drinking (because the brain keeps developing until 25, and addictions can develop quickly in younger people). When he does drink, encourage him to leave getting wasted to others and just enjoy his own happy buzz.