What Causes Teen Drinking?
Teens are going through a period of rapid growth. This growth brings forth overwhelming emotions, and some teens try to numb these emotions by drinking alcohol. Furthermore, teens don’t have a lot of impulse control during this time. The part of the brain that’s responsible for regulating impulses has not fully developed by the teenage years. In fact, that part of the brain won’t fully develop until your child reaches his or her mid-twenties. Therefore, many teens don’t weigh the pros and cons of their decision before taking a drink.
Many other factors contribute to teen drinking. These include the items on the list below:
- Parties where alcohol is easily available
- Curiosity about the effects of alcohol
- Peer pressure
- High stress levels
- Emulating a parent or older sibling
- Trying to appear grown up
- A desire to test limits
Though drinking is more dangerous for teenagers than for adults, trying alcohol during the teen years doesn’t necessarily mean that your child has an addiction. If, however, he or she does have an addiction, you’ll need to get help for your teen as soon as possible.
Drinking causes 4,300 underage deaths per year.
Addiction in Teens
Teens, like adults, can develop an addiction to alcohol. If addiction runs in your family, then your teen may be at risk. If your teen experiences a lot of stress, has a mental illness like anxiety or depression, or spends a lot of time in environments that have alcohol, those factors increase your child’s risk of becoming addicted.
If your child drinks alcohol regularly, he or she may start to depend on the substance. Alcohol use slows down the central nervous system and impacts different brain chemicals. The body, especially the teen body, learns how to adapt, quickly getting used to the changes caused by alcohol. If an addicted person of any age tries to quit alcohol, the body may react poorly. Many addicted individuals experience withdrawal, or negative physical symptoms, when they attempt to quit drinking alcohol.
If you’re worried that your teen might have an addiction, contact Rehab Info at 800-492-QUIT.
Dangers of Teen Drinking
Just like with adult drinking, teen drinking comes with a long list of dangers. These dangers include:
- Liver damage
- Heart damage
- Premature aging
- Various types of cancer
Furthermore, because your teen’s brain is still developing, alcohol abuse can interfere with that development process, leading to long-term learning and processing difficulties.
Signs and Symptoms
If your teen has a drinking problem, you may notice some of the following signs:
- Acting secretive
- Sudden behavioral changes
- Slurred speech
- Red eyes
- Dropping grades
- Asking for or stealing money
What if My Teen Has a Problem?
If your teen has a problem with drinking, you have several steps that you can take to help your child.
First, enforce your boundaries and consequences. If you’ve told your teen that drinking leads to being grounded, then follow through on those consequences without backing down or negotiating. If you haven’t set any specific drinking-related boundaries with your teen, do so quickly. However, stay calm when you enforce these boundaries and consequences. If your teen yells, keep your own voice level to diffuse the argument. A screaming match with your teen won’t lead to any progress.
Be honest about your teen’s risk of developing an addiction. If mental illness runs in your family, don’t hide that fact from your child. Just like adults, teens don’t enjoy being lied to or manipulated. If they sense that you’re hiding things from them, they’ll hide things from you. Explain why you’re concerned about your child’s drinking habits.
If you child continues drinking, get help from his or her doctor or counselor. These people can give you practical steps to help your child, and you’ll feel less overwhelmed if you have another adult on your side. Finally, you may decide to enroll your teen in a rehab program. Some rehabs exist specifically for adolescents, and the doctors and counselors in these programs are trained to work with teenagers and their specific needs.
Need More Help?
If all of this information is too much to process right away, Rehab Info can help you sort through the information and develop a simple action plan. We can advise you about different rehab facilities.