Teenagers drink. It is a fact most parents do not want to believe or will outright deny. The truth is that alcohol is the number one substance that teens abuse. It may seem harmless, perhaps you drank as a teen, but the reality is that teen drinking can lead to teenage alcoholism.
Teens and alcohol abuse can be a lethal combination and a tricky one to detect. Parents and other adults that know a teen abusing alcohol may not notice that there is a problem. This is a problem because reaching a teen at the beginning of their drinking issue is critical for recovery.
The younger a teen starts drinking, the harder it is to reach them or for them to stop drinking. There is a higher probability that they will become an alcoholic as an adult. Add this to the fact that car crashes involving alcohol claim the lives of more teens every year and it is important to prevent teen drinking to save lives on all levels.
Teens that drink tend to take risks in all aspects of their behavior since alcohol lowers inhibitions. They engage in unprotected sex, vandalize, burglarize, fight, and often move on to more illegal substances.
Why is it that teens drink? There are many reasons. Peer pressure, accessibility, escape from problems, pressure, and stress are some of the reasons. If a teen comes from an alcoholic home, they may also be prone to alcohol abuse themselves. The more they drink, the more they have the potential to develop a dependency problem.
If your teen is drinking, there is something that you can do. Communication is key. Talk to your teen. Get to know them. Look for these signs to see if your teen is having issues with alcohol:
- late for curfew
- isolating themselves
- behavior changes: abusive or aggressive
- signs of intoxication
- new friends that you don’t know
- problems in school
If you suspect your teen is abusing alcohol seek help. Just like an adult, a teen will need to recognize their problem and choose to make a change. As a parent you can be there for support, but you cannot do the work for them. Look to counselors or programs to help guide your teen through recovery. Often identifying why and dealing with the reason that a teen starts drinking can reverse the abuse.
Teenage drinking can begin with experimentation and can move to alcohol dependency. By being engaged in your child’s life you may be able to prevent them from exploring the world of alcohol. You don’t have to lose your teen to alcohol, you just have to be aware that you could and act accordingly.