Teenage Alcohol Signs and what to do about it

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The most commonly used substance in America among young people is alcohol. Underage drinking has become the leading public health issue, with approximately 5,000 people under 21 dying every year, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Among these numbers are 1,900 deaths due to motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 from homicide, 300 from suicide, and others from falls, drownings, and burns all related to alcohol use.
Despite these alarming numbers, alcoholism remains rampant among teens. Underage drinking must be battled against to prevent teens from losing their young lives. 

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Signs of teenage alcoholism

Some of the signs of underage drinking can manifest physically, mentally, and emotionally. If you suspect your teen is drinking alcohol, keep an eye out for the following:

Physical:

  • Consistent alcohol smell on breath and clothes.
  • Unchecked alcohol consumption.
  • Bloodshot eyes.
  • Unkempt physical appearance and poor hygiene.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Tiredness and lack of energy.
  • Blackout and memory loss due to excessive drinking.

Mental:

  • Loss of interest in academics and other previous hobbies.
  • Secretive behaviour.
  • Discipline problems.
  • Lying about their alcohol consumption.

Emotional:

  • Mood swings.
  • Aggressive attitude.
  • Isolation from family and friends.

The physical symptoms are easier to notice since the mental and emotional signs are often typical during adolescence. It would be best to talk to your teen to confirm your suspicions.

Causes of teenage alcoholism

Your teen may have various reasons for turning to alcoholism. It is essential to understand these reasons, explain the consequences to your teen, and take the necessary actions to solve the problem. Some of the common causes of underage drinking include:

  • Peer pressure

Teens are afraid of rejection, especially from their peers. When a friend offers them alcohol, they might find it difficult to say no. Drinking alcohol maybe some form of initiation into a social circle that your teen would want to belong to.

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  • The Internet

Teens are regularly exposed to the Internet nowadays. Some of its contents may involve the use of substances and the message that they are “in” or cool. Moreover, social media platforms have become a hub for the latest trends. These can influence your teen in trying out different substances to keep up with the trends.

  • Boredom

Teenagers are very susceptible to alcohol use when boredom strikes. They would try out anything just to keep them occupied. Given the excitement that alcohol can bring, they can potentially develop an addiction to it.

  • Lack of confidence and self-esteem

Socially awkward teens may use alcohol as a confidence booster to do things they won’t normally do. Alcohol helps in loosening inhibitions, potentially turning a shy teenager into the life of the party.
Alcohol can even be an excuse for doing reckless or humiliating things. Writing it off as being drunk prevents them from dealing with the consequences. 

  • Form of escapism 

When things get too stressful, teens turn to alcohol to keep them distracted. Alcohol consumption can bring them the solace that they can’t find when sober. It can provide instant gratification when your teen is feeling down due to a bad grade or break-up.

Learn more about underage drinking

Effects of teenage alcoholism

Consumption of alcohol among teens can cause both short- and long-term effects on their still-developing brain. These effects can be avoided altogether if the alcohol issue is treated as soon as possible.

Short-term Consequences:

  • Difficulty in making good decisions or casting the proper judgment.
  • Impaired motor coordination.
  • Likelihood of behaving recklessly.
  • Decrease in self-awareness.
  • Higher risk of being injured.

Long-Term Consequences:

  • Interference of normal brain development.
  • Development of alcohol addiction during adulthood.
  • Co-occurring disorders.
  • Liver problems.
  • Growth and endocrine problems.

Teen Alcohol Tips: What parents can do to help their teen

Having a solid and trusting relationship with your teen is the best way to encourage them to avoid drinking. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the likelihood of children beginning to drink is slim if they are close with their parents. As such, building a strong tie with your child can prevent them from acting out as they will strive to do good by you. 

Parents can build a solid relationship by following these five tips:

  • Encourage open communication

If you caught your teen drinking excessively or have found bottles of alcohol under their bed, calmly approaching them is the best way to go on about this. Marching towards them with an angry lecture will only trigger an adverse reaction. Instead, focus on having a conversation where all parties can voice their concerns. If your teen is part of the discussion, they will be inclined to listen to your side and respect your opinions.
Teens are at a stage in their life where they want to feel heard. Blatantly expressing what you want them to do gives them the impression that you are trying to dictate their every action and decision. Avoid this negativity as much as possible. 

  • Show that you care

Teenagers often feel alone during their battles. They tend to believe that they are alone against the world. This mindset prompts them to isolate themselves from everyone, including you. Reassure them that you’ll always be on their side.
You can do so by engaging in activities that you’ll both enjoy. Spending time with you will prevent them from seeking out alcohol.

  • Establish reasonable rules

When it’s time to set some rules, try to get your teen involved to show that you trust them. This can help your teen think twice when deciding whether to drink or not.
As for the consequences of breaking the rules, you need to keep them rational and not overly harsh. Always avoid going to extremes such as withholding meals and other necessities.

  • Give your teen room to grow

Some parents forget that their children are bound to make mistakes sometimes. Remember that their wrongs are part of their growth. Talking with your teen regarding the changes that are happening to them can help them understand their situation. Let them take responsibility and learn from their mistakes. However, if they find themselves in a serious and dangerous situation, step in immediately and help them out. 

  • Enlist professional help

If your teen’s alcoholic ways turn to abuse or addiction, it is advisable to seek professional help. Doctors can adequately diagnose your teen and prescribe the best solution to overcome their illness. Most of the time, this solution would be admission to a teen alcohol treatment program.
These programs focus on identifying the root cause of your teen’s alcohol abuse. The kind of program they will be admitted to such as inpatient or outpatient depends on their needs. 

Some of the approaches used in addressing teen alcoholism include:

  • Individual Counselling.
  • Group Therapy.
  • Family Therapy.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
  • Motivational Interviewing.
  • 12-Step Programs.
  • Recovery Counseling.

Conclusion

You can prevent your teen from developing an addiction to alcohol by recognizing the signs and taking immediate action. If it comes a time when you are no longer capable of helping your teen, seek professional help.

Key Transitions is a teen drug rehab center in Los Angeles which can offer the best possible help by providing to teens so that they can cure their various addictions. Don’t think of enlisting an extra set of hands as having failed as a parent. Sometimes, the only way to help is by admitting that you alone can’t handle your teen’s situation.
After all, the most important thing is making sure that your teen overcomes their alcohol issues and restores their positive outlook in life. 

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