First, let’s set the scene. High school teens are getting ready for their schools biggest rival football game. All of the teenagers are in the parking lot outside the stadium, getting painted up in school colors and enjoying the company of friends; unsupervised.

As parents and adults walk past, they see the kids with styrofoam cups, solo cups or soda cans. What these adults passing are unaware of is that some of these kids are pregaming before they enter the stadium.

“Pregaming” is the practice of consuming alcohol large amounts of alcohol and/or other drugs with the goal of becoming intoxicated quickly and intensely, so that the “high” can be sustained over several hours. Teens often “pregame” before school-sanctioned events, family functions or other social situations where access to substances will be restricted or limited.

Often pregaming occurs in the car on the way to the event, or on the street corner outside the event. It may also take place at the home of the child whose parents are out, unaware or permissive. As previously mentioned alcohol may be hidden in water bottles, soda cans or other harmless looking containers and taken along on the way to the event.

When teens take in large amounts of alcohol in a short time, teens are often unaware of the dangers it can have on their body.  Alcohol impairs judgment causing the person to do and say things that he or she will later regret.  Binge drinking is extremely dangerous because consuming large amounts of alcohol at one time can lead to unintentional injuries such as falls and sexual assault, alcohol poisoning, brain damage, coma and the worst case scenario, death.

So what should you do as a parent? Talk to your child about the dangers of pregaming and your prohibition of it in your house. If you know your child is going to a school event or to a private party, remind him/her that your non-negotiable rule is NO drinking. Know your child’s plan for the time leading up to the event. If teens come over to your house to get ready together, make sure you are present and involved. If they are going to a friend’s house, talk to the friend’s parents to make sure they will be home and express the rules you have with your child about underage drinking. Not all parent’s share you disapproval!

Always remember, be your child’s parent, not their peer.