Helping Kids Avoid Alcohol

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - January 09, 2008

The Honolulu Liquor Commission is providing free alcohol detection kits to parents who are concerned their underage kids are drinking. I know there are many of you who began drinking alcohol before you were of legal age. It is through this prism you will either support or oppose the HLC decision.

I had my first alcoholic drink when I was in ninth grade, at about age 14. We were living in Indianapolis and I got to know a couple guys my age in our neighborhood. One of them was the stereotypical slacker dude: He worked at the mall, had an apartment with no furniture, but had the best stereo in the entire universe. Back in the day the legal drinking age was 18, so there was no shortage of older guys who would buy for the younger guys.

I am not sure how it came about, but one night I found myself with a bottle of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill wine in my hand. At the end of the night, I found myself with an empty bottle of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill in my hand. I remember it tasted pretty good, but it wasn’t until I started walking home that I really felt the effects of the alcohol. I recall the room spinning a bit when I got home, but aside from that, I survived my first encounter.

I told my mom about it the next day. She was not pleased. I was grounded for a long period of time and forbidden to go to the stereo guy’s apartment again. I was warned about the dangers of booze and reminded I was years away from being able to have a beverage.

As with most kids in my high school, I did drink. I did some stupid things like drink so much before a rehearsal for a community play I was in that I ended up getting sick in the auditorium bathroom. The trouble is that in a cavernous concert hall, the acoustical quality extends to the lobby. That embarrassing incident got me thinking I really wasn’t being very smart. That was pretty much my last pubescent encounter with excess.

I know that in my home when I was a kid, I would have shuddered at the thought of getting busted for drinking. The wrath of my mom would be enough of a consequence for me to stop. But almost all kids think they can pull one over on their parents. If there was a way for my mom to know for a fact I had a drink when I said adamantly I did not, that certainty of being discovered would ensure I would not have that drink.

Fast forward about 30 years and I am a parent of two young children. Regardless of what I did when I was younger, I don’t want my kids drinking alcohol. As a parent, it is my responsibility to do all I can to keep my kids safe. I wholeheartedly support the Honolulu Liquor Commission with its offer to provide alcohol testing kits to parents. This is another tool parents can use, at their discretion, in the discussion with their children regarding underage drinking.

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