Despite alcohol being illegal for teens to drink, drink it they do, often to the point of alcohol addiction. In high doses, alcohol can be extremely harmful. Underage drinkers are at risk of becoming alcoholics, whether they can admit this or not.
Teens are able to access illegal alcoholic drinks, such as beer, wine and liquor, all containing ethyl alcohol or ethanol. Ethanol is actually a poison, and it disrupts brain function. A little can impair your vision and coordination. Your thinking can become less clear and your judgment poor. A lot can kill you.
When someone starts drinking before age fourteen, the chances they will become addicted to alcohol later in life increase many-fold. In fact statistics have shown that half of U.S. teenagers who begin young become addicted. When addicted to alcohol, a person will find they must drink more in order to function normally and despite drinking causing problems in their lives.
A person can become addicted to any alcoholic beverage – wine, beer or hard liquor. None of these are more addictive than another. Although each of these alcoholic beverages have different amounts of alcohol in them, as long as there is alcohol in them a person can become dependent on them.
Far too many teens drink, although there are fewer kids that want alcohol a part of their lives. Drinking is a social activity and many will drink with friends. It seems to allow a person to shed their inhibitions. “Everybody does it” is something you hear a lot. But just because friends do it, is no reason to start. It is claimed that small amounts are good for the heart. That may be true, but teens don’t have to try and help their heart at so early an age. Later as an adult to have one drink now and then won’t hurt anything.
Teens will attend parties where the objective is to drink to get drunk. This is the most harmful type of drinking. You can read more about it in our Binge Drinking article.
Looking at these signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse, you must keep in mind that some of these are normal teenage behavior. When you see more than one of these at the same time, you may want to look more closely as to whether the teenager is drinking heavily.
1. The teen has large flare-ups of temper and mood changes, becomes defensive and irritable.
2. School problems are evident, including low grades, disciplinary actions and poor attendance.
3. The teen rebels against family rules and agreements.
4. The teenager gets new friends and is reluctant to have you meet them.
5. Memory lapses, poor concentration along with bloodshot eyes are a symptom of alcohol abuse.
6. The teen become more sloppy than usual, is less energetic and is not involved with usual interests.
Of course, if you smell alcohol on your teen’s breath, or find alcohol in his or her bedroom, you will know a problem with alcohol has arrived.
Teens are swayed a lot by what their friends do and say. If your teen understands the real risks with drinking, he or she will be less likely to become involved in drinking. But the pressure from peers can be great. You can tell your teen that it is fine to say “NO.” Here are some responses to getting pressured to drink with friends:
>No thank you. I really want a soda.
>Alcohol is not really my thing.
>Don’t keep pressuring me when I have already said no.
Teens are killed every year from driving drunk. This includes the driver and teens with him or her in the vehicle. Each year about 4,000 young people die in alcohol-related driving accidents. This is far too many young lives taken by alcohol. Unfortunately, many think, “Oh, it cannot happen to me.” But if it happens to 4,000 youth, it can indeed happen to anyone.
Other incidents of injury or death stemming from alcohol abuse are drownings, burns, falls, suicide and homicide.
A person must be like a detective to find the right drug and alcohol rehab program that will meet your specific needs. Not all are successful in providing lasting sobriety. There is nothing worse than a teen going through a program and relapsing into alcohol abuse. It can even lead to drug use and more. Finding the right rehab in your area can be tricky. We can help.