For the most of us, life is all about fun, until the age of 21. And, to live life to the fullest, teenagers, especially boys, look for options that allow them to have maximum fun. Their list includes ideas that are both safe and risky for their health as well as personal development, such as making new friends, joining social groups, and trying alcohol and drugs.
Whether a teenager opts to drink alcohol for the first time or abuses it habitually, it can lead to numerous negative effects on his/her physical and mental health, such as brain damage, suicidal thoughts, accidents, and sometimes, even death.
In the light of the looming dangers of alcohol abuse, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Inc. (NCADD) has been observing the month of April as Alcohol Awareness Month since 1987. The initiative aims at spreading awareness about the negative effects of alcoholism and the associated stigma, and making treatment options readily available for all those who are suffering from alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Drinking trend on rise among teens
The problem of underage drinking has seen a rapid growth in the United States in the past few years. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), about 33 percent of teenagers have had at least one drink by the age of 15, and approximately 60 percent of them have had it by the age of 18.
The factors leading to such high exposure to alcohol among teens are many, such as peer pressure, the need to look and feel like adults, dealing with stress, mirroring parents’ behavior, anxiety in teenagers, ignorance, to rebel, self-medication, to have fun, or simply out of curiosity.
When teenagers opt to drink alcohol to deal with their stress and anxiety, it might provide them with a temporary relief. But its long-term use can lead to the development of complications such as addiction, behavioral issues, brain damage, mental health disorders, unsafe sexual practice and road accidents, among others.
Recognizing alcohol abuse in teenagers
Identifying the signs of alcohol abuse in teenagers is not so difficult. Apart from the usual symptom of being intoxicated, a teen would also exhibit some or all of the following signs:
- Preferring to stay alone in his/her room
- Being verbally or physically abusive towards others
- Mood swings
- Maintaining poor hygiene
- Falling sick frequently
- Altering sleeping patterns
- Changing friends constantly
- Impaired balance
- Slurred speech
- Irresponsible behavior
Identifying the problem of alcohol abuse is also possible when a teen exhibits withdrawal symptoms. This situation arises when he/she is unable to feed his/her body with the required amount of alcohol. Some of the common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Intense anxiety
Alcohol abuse ups risk of behavioral problems
It is obvious that abusing alcohol leads to a number of negative effects on an individual’s health, both mental and physical. But life gets tougher when a teenager begins to experience the following effects of alcohol abuse:
- Emotional issues, such as anxiety and depression
- Anxiety disorders in children
- Behavioral problems, such as suicidal thoughts and violence
- Increased dependence on alcohol
- Alcohol addiction
- Increased risk of unprotected sex
- Brain injury and damage
- Road crashes
- Deteriorated learning ability
- Impaired cognitive functions
Apart from these, underage drinking is also a leading factor of numerous deaths and injuries. As per the latest data made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol has been found to be a major cause of death of more than 4,300 individuals under age 21 every year, which is almost 12 persons a day. This costed the U.S. $24 billion in 2010 alone.
Another startling statistic that shows the extent of underage drinking is that almost 11 percent of the total alcohol consumed in the U.S. is by the people aged between 12 and 20 and the maximum of this volume is consumed in the form of binge drinking. In fact, different surveys have shown that underage drinkers have more drinks per drinking session than adults.
Treatment for teenage alcohol abuse
Parents and siblings can play an important role in avoiding the risk of developing alcohol addiction in teens. Helping them understand the negative effects of alcohol on their health, talking to them about life in general, and keeping tabs on all the parties attended by them can go a long way in keeping the teen away from alcohol.
Parents can also advice their teens to drink responsibly in situations when they choose to do so. Acting as a role model for their teens, parents should also reduce the easy availability of alcohol and be very careful about how they drink and how much they drink in front of their children.
In case, the teen has already developed an addiction to alcohol, parents can get the same diagnosed through an interview with an expert, and by getting some specific tests done. On successful diagnosis of the condition, the best suitable treatment, such as medication or rehab, may be selected depending on the severity of the condition.
Treatment may also include identification of the underlying psychiatric conditions, such as depression and anxiety in young children. This is because these might have been triggering the abuse of alcohol or may be an outcome of regular alcohol abuse by an individual.
The abuse of alcohol can be a grave problem among teens but early intervention can help. It is important for a teenager to learn to say no to alcohol. If he/she finds it difficult to do so, White River Academy can be of assistance. White River Academy is a therapeutic boarding school with state-of-the-art facilities and superb environment. We specialize in helping boys aged between 12 and 17.
While helping boys get rid of their addiction, we also ensure that they get an opportunity to explore their inner selves and discover who they really are and what do they want. If there’s someone you know who is addicted to alcohol or any other substance, call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online to know the complete details about our available treatment plans and programs.