Special for Prom Season:
How Teens Hide Alcohol Use from Parents

Teens at prom

Yes, it’s prom season. A time of excitement, shopping, tuxedos, long dresses and corsages. In the minds of many young people, it’s also a time for planning secret celebrations of their own. Who will they call to provide alcohol for them? Where will they hide it from their parents? Who will hold the afterparties?

Unfortunately, for many teens, this time of year becomes a game of seeing what they can get away with without regard for consequences. Where can they learn how to get away with as much misbehavior as possible? From other teens, through online resources. Let’s look at some of this advice shared by teens.

How to Drink at a Prom

  • Wait till after, go to a house where you plan to spend the night and get hammered.
  • Drink beforehand, if you have a good buzz going, they shouldn’t notice. Stay away from them (adults) as much as possible.
  • Put vodka in a water bottle.
  • I came in with a Gatorade bottle filled with Kool-Aid and vodka. No one noticed.

Permissive Parents and Afterparties

In any school, there are some permissive parents who feel it’s okay for their child to drink as long as it is at home. These parents will host parties where alcohol consumption is overlooked or condoned. Teens also know who to ask to buy alcohol for them if parents won’t do it.

It’s vital for parents to realize that other parents are not necessarily trying to make sure that kids in their home stay alcohol-free and get home safely. If your teen is not coming home immediately after the prom, you need to have a conversation on this exact point. If your teen is going to an afterparty, make sure it’s at the home of parents you trust. And then verify that those parents are planning on a non-alcoholic event!

Concealing the Consumption of Alcohol

If alcohol will be consumed at an afterparty, the teen then needs to find out to conceal the odor of alcohol from his parents once he gets home. Here’s some online advice on that point.

  • Change clothes, take a shower.
  • Drink vodka only.
  • Chew gum or mints.
  • Eat fruity candy.
  • Don’t sit next to them.
  • Spray perfume or cologne.
  • Eat while you’re drinking.
  • Try to act natural.
  • Don’t laugh and giggle.
  • Don’t say anything.
  • Don’t drunk-dial your parents.
  • Go straight to bed.

A Few Important Statistics

Statistics can be boring, I know. But here’s a few statistics that ought to be very interesting to parents.

  • Percentage of girls who had sex on prom night: 14%
  • Percentage of girls who lost their virginity on prom night: 5%
  • Percentage of guys who lost their virginity on prom night: 3%
  • Percentage of students who drank more than four drinks on prom night: 53%
Drunk lad

This last statistic is very important. Teens are very seldom experienced drinkers. An older drinker probably has a better idea of how to cope with being somewhat drunk. A younger person will be less accustomed to the sensation and will not have built up much tolerance for the substance. Parents need to be prepared for the reality of prom night and need to prepare their children.

Sex, Alcohol and Drugs

Girl in car

Some young people are going into prom night with the expectation that sex is going to happen. Alcohol or drug consumption makes this more likely. Take this into consideration when talking to your kids about their prom events. Even if you are not comfortable talking about this subject, bring it all out into the open. Be honest. Your child is not experienced and knowledgeable in this area and you can prevent a disaster by helping your child make the right decisions ahead of time and then working out how to stick to that decision even if their date has other ideas. Again, staying sober is a critical component of controlling this situation.

According to a Mothers Against Drunk Driving survey, 96% of parents don’t want their child drinking at a prom, but only about half of the parents surveyed discussed the matter with their children beforehand. Be one of the parents that cover this whole subject thoroughly, helping your child realize the bad things that could happen and how they can prevent them.

Not every teen is comfortable socially and they may feel alcohol will make the evening more fun and make them more relaxed. Even if they have never had more than a sip of alcohol, prom night could be when they plan to let loose and see where the evening takes them.

Don’t lose everything because you didn’t cover this evening, point by point, with your kids. Remember, if your child grumbles about the conversations you have, they know in their hearts how much you care. And they have a greater measure of protection from possible harmful experiences. That’s worth a lot on this night when many students could be planning to let loose and party hard.


Karen Hadley

For more than a decade, Karen has been researching and writing about drug trafficking, drug abuse, addiction and recovery. She has also studied and written about policy issues related to drug treatment.