Teen alcoholism is a widespread issue. According to the statistics on the matter, “just over 42% of American 10th graders reported drinking alcohol” in 2018, and, in the United States, “11% of the alcohol that is consumed is drunk by people between the ages of 12 and 20.”
The effects of this are far reaching. Not only can alcohol abuse negatively impact a teen’s mental and physical health, but it can also tax their relationships with others, and might even impact the delicate balance of co-parenting situations, according to Hollie Lemkin, a child custody lawyer in Costa Mesa.
As a parent or loved one, then, it makes sense that you’d want to be able to recognize the symptoms and learn what causes teen alcohol abuse. That’s exactly what we’ll be going over today, as we explore the warning signs behind alcohol use in teens.
How Alcohol Affects Teenagers
Alcohol has a number of deleterious effects on the teenage brain and body. Memory, for instance, tends to suffer with continued alcohol use, and the growing teenage brain runs the risk of becoming smaller in certain parts after repeated exposure to alcohol.
Alcohol use is, obviously, linked to an increase in underage DUIs, with nearly 2,000 teens dying every year in car crashes linked to underage drinking. What’s more, alcohol plays a factor in nearly half of all violent deaths involving teens.
Teenagers who abuse alcohol are more likely to have attempted suicide, in the case of females, and for both sexes, alcohol use can exacerbate emotional issues like anxiety and depression. This might also lead to teenagers engaging in risky sexual behavior — having unprotected sex, sex with strangers, or becoming the victims of sexual assault.
Recognizing The Signs
The immediate signs of alcohol intoxication in teens are similar to those of adults, and include the smell of alcohol on the breath, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and poor coordination.
Signs of longer term alcohol use might be difficult for parents to detect but can include:
- Noticeable shifts in mood (depression, anxiety, etc.)
- Withdrawal from extracurricular activities
- Declining study habits
- Weight changes
- Deterioration in physical appearance/grooming
- Less time spent with family
- Hostility towards parents and authority figures
It is important to respond quickly should you detect the signs of alcohol abuse, and clear communication about the negative consequences of alcoholism (along with ample supervision) serves as one of the primary deterrents at a parent’s disposal.