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What To Do When Your Teenager Comes Home Drunk

"Hello, we have just started to work through your book and it seems to be going well so far. However we need help about what to do if an incident happens again like last week - this has happened once before. Our 13 year old daughter went out got drunk - possibly smoked weed, was hit by another girl, then refused attempts to get her home - she was crying and was hysterical eventually a friend calmed her down - she would not respond to us at all. She has just gone through a 3 day grounding and has signed a contract with us (she also self harmed when she was alone in her room). We will deal with things as they happen, but what if that happens again? We felt so helpless. Many thanks."

Be sure to clearly state your expectations regarding your daughter’s drinking and establish consequences for breaking rules. Your values and attitudes count, even though she may not always show it.

If one or more members of your immediate or extended family has suffered from alcoholism, your daughter may be more vulnerable to developing a drinking problem. She needs to know that for her, drinking may carry special risks.

Should your daughter come home under the influence, make sure she is in no immediate danger due to her alcohol use, but wait until she is sober to address the problem. When she sobers up, say/do the following:

1. Say (with your best poker face), "I noticed you came in intoxicated last night. I felt shocked and worried."

2. Next, Listen. Give your daughter a chance to speak (although all you're going to hear is a line of bullshit; she will be angry with you for confronting her and will want you to get off her back; she will probably deny that she drank any alcohol; even if she admits to drinking, she will most likely blame someone else for the drinking episode).

3. Then say, "The house rule is no drinking before the age of 21. If you choose to ignore this rule, you'll choose the consequence -- the police will be called and you will be charged with minor consumption."

4. End on a positive note by saying, "To help you be successful with following this house rule, I will provide discipline, structure, added supervision, and spot checks. I know you are more than capable of following this house rule - I have faith in you - I know you can do this!"

If your daughter has another drinking episode, follow through with the consequence you stated in step 3.

So here's the formula: 

I noticed... 

I felt... 


The house rule is... 

If you choose to ignore this rule, you'll choose the consequence, which is... 

End on a positive note

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