Understanding Teen Alcoholism

Teen Drinking

Facing teen alcoholism can be difficult for any family. Even when the teen who is abusing alcohol is ready and willing to accept help, the battle can be tough. If the family needs to stage an intervention in order to get the teen to accept help, it can be even more challenging.

Risk Factors

Though teen alcoholism can happen in any family, some teens are more at risk for becoming alcoholics than others. Some of the risk factors for teen alcoholism include depression and anxiety. Teens who are prone to emotional problems are more likely to abuse alcohol than other teens. Teens who exhibit thrill-seeking behaviors or areunable to control their impulses are also more likely to abuse alcohol. Children whose parents are alcoholic are statistically more likely to become alcoholics themselves, and those who begin drinking at a young age are more likely to have serious problems with alcohol as they get older. Older teens who are close with their mothers tend to be less likely to abuse alcohol. Teens are very influenced by their social groups. If your teen is hanging out with a crowd that drinks or abuses drugs, it is more likely that your teen will eventually do so.

Not all teens abuse alcohol the same way. Some teens only drink occasionally or in social situations. A small percentage of teen drinkers drink heavily and frequently. These teens are more likely to become alcoholics. That’s why it’s important to intervene early. Teens who use alcohol are at increased risk for underperforming in school, participating in a dangerous sexual activity, such as unprotected sex, or being involved in a drunk driving accident. Additionally, teens who abuse alcohol are more likely to be victimized by assault or other crimes. There is some evidence that the mental and emotional development of teens can be permanently affected by early alcohol abuse.

Symptoms

If your teen is abusing alcohol, it is unlikely that he or she will volunteer it. However, there are some symptoms of alcohol use that you can be aware of that may help you determine if your teen is using alcohol. Teens who are abusing alcohol may have trouble getting up in the morning and are frequently late to school or miss school. If your teen has been concealing school absences from you, that is a sign that there may be a problem. If your teen’s friends have been in trouble for alcohol or drug use recently, that could mean that your teen is either using or being pressured to use. If you discover that your teen has lied to you about issues like money or where he or she is spending time, then it is possible that your teen is drinking. If your teen’s personality has changed drastically in a short period of time, substance abuse may be to blame. Another symptom of alcoholism is denial – if you see clear signs that there is a problem, you may not be able to accept your teen’s reassurance that everything is fine. It is better to get help young than to have to confront a substance abuse problem later on life, when the legal and physical consequences may be more severe.

Intervention

Unless your teen is willing to go to a detox and rehab facility and get help recovering from alcohol dependence, you may need to stage an intervention. Intervention is when a teen’s family members and perhaps friends confront the teen in an attempt to encourage him or her to go to an alcohol treatment facility. Don’t try to stage an intervention on your own. Rather, get help from an organization that specializes in teens with alcohol dependency problems.

Treatment

The good news is that there are plenty of resources available to help get your teen into a detox and rehab program. Look for programs that cater especially to teens and only have teens in their facilities. You may wish to choose a single-gender program, though there are some coed rehab programs. At a detox and rehab program, teens have access to therapists to help them work through the emotional and behavioral causes of their addiction. Doctors are on staff to help manage the physical effects of alcohol withdrawal as well as provide medical care and prescription drugs when appropriate. Though your child may not want to go to treatment at first, it is important that you do everything you can to get an alcoholic teen into an alcohol rehab program.