When confronted with alcohol, a teen needs effective refusal strategies.

Refusal Strategies for Teen Drinking

by Kathryn Hatter

Alcohol use among teenagers carries significant safety risks and can result in devastating consequences, including severe injury and death. It’s likely your teen will encounter a circumstance where he needs to make a decision about drinking. By teaching refusal strategies, you give your adolescent an effective tactic to make a sound decision.


Before your teen experiences a circumstance that involves alcohol, help her prepare herself mentally and emotionally to respond. Have direct conversations about the prevalence of alcohol and the dangers associated with underage drinking. After educating your teen, talk about the importance of standing up to people who might offer her alcohol or urge her to drink. Role-play possible scenarios to give your adolescent practice refusing a drink, suggests a Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center pamphlet titled “Underage Drinking.”

Possible Messages to Use

Your teen has a variety of messages he could use when refusing alcohol, suggests California's Stop Teen DUI website. One option involves an honest and straightforward answer: “No thanks. I don’t drink.” Another option is to suggest an alternative activity that would not involve drinking. Your teenager could also reverse the coercion by asking why it’s so important for him to join in the drinking, advises the Lexington High School PTSA website. Another way to rebuff the pressure to drink alcohol is by saying, “Not right now.”

Portray Strength and Resolve

Part of a successful refusal strategy involves portraying resolve in the face of pressure. Assertive body language will send a clear message of refusal. Remind your teen to stand erect with her head held high, maintain eye contact and speak in a clear and strong voice. Showing nervousness or uncertainty communicates indecision, which might lead to more pressure to drink.

Exit Strategies

If an oral refusal doesn’t resolve the circumstance, an exit strategy will be necessary so your teen can leave the scene. Possible exit strategies include stating that something unexpected has occurred that requires her to leave immediately. Your teenager could also find a friend who is also abstaining and make alternative plans. Tell your teen that he can always call you for a ride if he needs to leave a setting to avoid alcohol.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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