Teen Alcohol Abuse

teen alcohol abuseMany teens experiment with alcohol, and more of them choose to drink than smoke tobacco or use marijuana. Do you feel confident that you would be able recognize the signs of teen alcohol abuse?

The results of a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that:

• 35.1 percent of 15 year olds stated they consumed at least one alcoholic drink in their lives
• 8.7 million people in the aged 12-20 age group said they had been drinking in the past month (23 percent of males and 22.7 percent of females)
• 5.4 million respondents in the same age group had engaged in binge drinking (15.8 percent of males and 12.4 percent of females)
• 1.4 million respondents in the same age group engaged in heavy drinking (4.6 percent of males and 2.7 percent of females)

Binge drinking is five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women in about two hours. Heavy drinking is “drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion on each of five or more days in the past 30 days.” (SAMHSA)

Warning Signs of Teen Alcohol Abuse

There are physical and behavioral warning signs which may point to an issue with alcohol. Some of these signs may present themselves during the teen years due to hormonal changes, stress at school or other reasons. If you see a number of the warning signs occurring at the same time, it could be cause for concern.

Physical Signs of Alcohol Abuse

• Alcohol missing from the house
• Bloodshot eyes
• Changes in appetite
• Changes in sleep pattern
• Discovering watered-down bottles of alcohol
• Finding alcohol in a teen’s room or with their belongings
• Injuries or bruises your teen cannot recall how they occurred
• Lack of interest in grooming or personal hygiene
• Poor coordination
• Slurred speech
• Sudden increased use of gum or breath mints
• Smell of alcohol on the breath or clothing

Behavioral Signs of Alcohol Abuse

• Becoming withdrawn
• Change in personality
• Drop in grades
• Frequently asking for money
• Getting into fights at home or at school
• Having a “short fuse”; angry outbursts
• Loss of interest in activities or hobbies the teen previously enjoyed
• Missing money or valuables from the home
• Refusing to discuss friends or where they are going
• Skipping classes or school
• Sudden changes in mood
• Using eye drops to hide bloodshot eyes

What to Do if You Discover Your Teen is Abusing Alcohol

If you find out your teen has a problem with alcohol abuse, don’t wait to seek help. Find a rehab center that works with young people and arrange for an assessment so that you can find out about effective treatment options.