What is Teen Alcohol Addiction?
Teenage alcohol addiction is described as the craving for alcohol and the inability to stop drinking. This is a disease that affects people at different stages of life. American Psychological Association (APA) stated that alcohol use disorder (AUD) is considered a mental health disorder that causes long-term changes in the function of the brain. There is no specific cause since genetic, psychological, and behavioral factors can contribute to it. But it can start in many places such as schools and universities. There can be various reasons for your teen to start liking alcohol. That being said, there is a possibility of getting alcohol addiction at an early age.
Based on a data survey of 43,000 U.S. respondents who experienced alcoholism at some point, almost half of the respondents met the diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse by age 21. Moreover, based on the result of the examined data at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcohol dependence or abuse is first experienced by the three age-of-first-drink groups. These groups are younger than 15, between 15 and 17, and 18 years or older. This means that teens who start drinking at the age of 15-21 are more likely to experience alcohol use disorder.
Treating alcohol addiction issues at an early age may be challenging, but it becomes a lot easier with proper guidance from professionals. There are plenty of Los Angeles-based teen alcohol help programs designed specifically for teens struggling with teenage alcohol addiction. Parents can try teen drug addiction treatment therapy, counseling, nutritional changes, and more. But, one of the most common practices for helping adolescents is parent coaching and Teen alcohol addiction treatment rehab centers where they can know why do teenagers drink alcohol.
Regardless of the situation, it is always important for parents to guide their children to overcome any issues they encounter. Overcoming teenage alcohol abuse may be a tough road. It may even feel impossible at some point, but it is not. Keep in mind that the journey to recovery is a gradual process that requires the family to come together.
Why Do Teenagers Get Addicted To Alcohol at an Early Age?
Adolescence is a stage in life where teens begin to get more curious about everything. It is when they want to explore more and want to try everything. According to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report, there were an estimated 10 million underage drinkers in 2010. Among those 10 million, about 6 million were teens who were binge drinking, while the remaining 4 million were heavy drinkers. The findings are alarming, so parents must be more aware of the environment of their children and they must know what to do if their child is drinking alcohol.
A lot of adolescents are not aware of the consequences of alcohol consumption. This is because they may have seen this done by the adults around them as they grew up. It is a sad reality. Therefore, adults must be more careful and attentive about their environment. Another reason why teens start binge drinking is due to their peers around the school too. Most of the time, underage drinking starts when peer pressure is present. It drives teens to try things that they don’t even like in the first place just to fit in. Social media is also a contributing factor in alcoholism as some portray alcohol as a convincing way to gain friends. Therefore, they see alcohol drinking as a typical teenage experience.
Let’s be honest; the world is not always suitable for everyone. If adults sometimes find it hard to deal with things, teens will also, and they often act out since they lack life experience. Struggling teens often look for something to distract themselves. Therefore, some embrace alcohol as a form of escape and a rebellion to prove that they can handle themselves. Alcohol became a form of drug to make them feel validated.
5 Warning Signs of Teenage Drinking Addiction
Alcohol addiction experiences on teenagers differ from one to another. Therefore, it is essential to understand and look out for the signs, side effects, and symptoms of underage drinking addiction to identify if they are under the influence of it. This will help parents or guardians identify whether or not their children are involved in alcohol abuse. There are several warning signs to help distinguish potential teenage alcoholic symptoms. So, to help, below are the top five warning signs of teen alcohol addiction that you should take note of:
1. Change in Friends Circle
As mentioned earlier, one of the contributing factors to alcohol abuse is peer pressure. If you start to notice weird and abnormal behavior, you may want to check on your child’s peers. If so, it is time to start asking questions and monitoring their time with their friends. Try to approach them in a way that they will not feel offended. Avoid being harsh, and ask them nicely. Ensure they will understand that you only care for them, and it is your responsibility as a parent or guardian to look out for them.
You can also try inviting their new friends and check what kind of friends they’re hanging out with. This way, you can better understand who they’re hanging out with outside your home. Keep in mind that teenagers are particularly vulnerable to binge drinking, especially if their group of friends urges them to do so.
2. Decline in School Performance
A sudden change in their grades is also a sign that your children are experiencing alcoholism. Are they getting lower grades than before? When teenagers start getting involved in underage drinking, they will pay less attention to their school activities. Hence, it affects their educational ranking. Some even sneak out or cut classes to drink and hang out with their peers and drink. Thus, parents should also check if their children are staying too long after school hours. It will help to ask the school for their schedule to understand better what they are doing at a specific time of the day.
You can also try engaging them in a conversation about school activities and check if they are still participating. It will give you a better idea if they are in a bad situation or not. But, still, make sure that you don’t go overboard as they still need some privacy.
3. Continuous Stress and Being Finicky
Another teenage alcoholic symptom to look out for is your children’s mood swings. Being stressed is normal, but you may want to check on your child more if it becomes terrible. Teenagers who get triggered easily may be under the influence of alcohol abuse. Remember that alcohol highly affects a person’s mood. The stress they are feeling may come from the fight or flight mode without alcohol. So, getting stressed in normal conversations is one of the signs that they may be into alcohol abuse.
The effects of alcohol on teenagers vary and may not be that visible physically. Also, keep in mind that being introverted is different from being finicky around people, especially family members. If this happens more often than not, then you should be concerned. Observe your children; do they show emotional red flags? Be more attentive as it may be a warning sign that they are not in a good situation.
4. Getting Sick More Often
A person who is under the influence of alcohol abuse gets sick more often. This cause of teenage drinking is that alcohol can weaken the immune system, making teens catch colds, flu, or other illnesses more frequently than teenagers who don’t drink. Therefore, it is necessary to look out for your children as getting cold or having a regular fever is another sign of alcoholism. Take note that large amounts of alcohol can poison the body. If your child gets violent vomiting, you should be alarmed because it is the first symptom of alcohol poisoning. It is best to seek a doctor if this happens.
In addition to getting sick more often, another sign to look out for is if you notice that they are staying at home more often and feel cranky or lethargic. Staying at home and not going to school or outside may be a sign of a hangover. If it usually happens, your teenager may be into alcohol abuse and may need help immediately.
5. Changed Behaviour and Attitude Towards Others
Alcohol intake plays a huge effect in the behaviors and psychological changes of a teenager. The shift in attitude may show when a teenager lacks interest in conversation with others, especially if they are about the things they like. When you notice that your children withdraw communication with your family and other people, it may be a sign that they are experiencing alcohol abuse. If your teenager is decreasing their friend circle, try to talk to them.
Make sure that your teenager knows they don’t have to go through things alone. Make them understand that it doesn’t take long to get fully detox from alcohol. Teenagers who suffer from alcohol addiction find it hard or impossible to quit. So, they tend to push people away as they think it will be a lesser burden for everyone. Prove them wrong and understand them by communicating. Explain to them how life works without making them feel invalidated. Be a parent or a guardian that actually cares.
What are the Other Health Risks of Teenage Alcohol Addiction?
The human body doesn’t create defenses against alcohol in the same way it makes defenses against disease. How does alcohol addiction start? It occurs, especially among teenagers. Teenagers are physically but not fully developed. So, alcohol has more harmful effects on teenagers than on adults. Teenage alcohol addiction poses severe several health risks such as:
1. Brain Effects
Alcohol disrupts the way neurons communicate with each other by interfering with receptors on specific cells. This is because alcohol contains chemicals and substances that kill brain cells. An excessive amount of alcohol consumption can lead to brain damages and mental disorders as well. Key Transitions offers great mental health treatment services for teenagers suffering from mental disorders.
2. Liver Effects
The liver is the organ that filters the alcohol in our body. If the liver has to filter out the alcohol, it can produce metabolites and other harmful toxins to your health. It causes diseases like fatty liver, hepatitis, cirrhosis, and worse, liver cancer.
3. Psychological Aspects
Alcoholism can result in maladaptive behaviors and thinking. This results in a cognitive state and eventually creates a stupor on anyone. This could not only be dangerous for teenagers with psychological issues but also the people around them.
4. Social Behavior
Teen Alcohol addiction leads to a harmful impact on health for sure and even abnormal social behavior. It can cause accidents and problems to the persons involved.
Teenagers are more at risk of getting health-related problems from alcohol compared to adults. But since they are not old enough, it is not too late to seek help with alcohol treatment for adolescents.
How to Help a Teen Struggling With Alcohol Addiction?
Since adolescents often feel trapped and powerless, escaping through alcohol and drugs is a common fact. Unfortunately, it can cause more problems, especially when teens get into alcohol addiction and substance abuse. You can help a teen with alcohol addiction by:
- Educate teens paired with an understanding of psychological functions on alcohol addiction or substance use disorders. This way, they can know why they feel the way they do and learn to control themselves. Instead of falling prey to the need to alter one’s awareness, try family-based therapy and Los Angeles teen alcohol treatment programs.
- How much physical and financial support you give them is up to you, but remember that addiction is an illness. A brief intervention letter on alcohol or drug treatment is a favorable option.
- Introduce them to Therapeutic communities or structured teen intensive outpatient programs that value the Contingency Management Reinforcement approach. These programs focus on recovery, teen alcohol abuse treatment effectiveness, and treatment outcome.
- Seek some help and guidance from a therapist. Seeking help from a teen therapist is the best way to treat teenage alcohol addiction. A therapist offers processes such as Cognitive-behavioral therapy and Motivational interviewing. These processes have a significant improvement on the condition of your teenager.
Teenagers are complex individuals, but they are capable of improving themselves. It would be best if you gave them the trust and support to overcome their problems. As alcoholism becoming a millennial problem nowadays and there are many dangers of teenage drinking. Have faith in your child that they’ll listen and learn from their experience. And also support them as they pursue their recovery.
It is hard when you see your loved one is suffering. While teens themselves may not understand how to handle their path to recovery, you can play a significant and crucial role in helping the affected person safely and have a brand-new life. The treatment for teen alcohol addiction is a long process, but it is a necessary and life-saving step.
Professionals, family, and friends also play a significant role in helping teenagers get rid of alcohol addiction. At Key Transitions, we offer Teen Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for teenagers and young adults having problems with alcoholism and other issues that the teenagers of today commonly face. With the Teen IOP program, we will bring significant changes and positive results to your family and struggling teenagers. Contact us today for a free and confidential assessment.