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The Truth About Teen Alcoholism

If you are a parent of a teenager, alcohol use and teenage alcoholism is a major issue that is ever present and unfortunately overlooked. According to information provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), one of every three high school students report they binge drink at least once a month. Additionally, SAMHSA reports that 9 million young people between the ages of 12 and 20 reported drinking alcohol in the last month. Teenage drinkers comprise 25% of the 12-20 age group and accounts for 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.

Reasons Why Teenagers Turn To Alcohol

The teenage years are a time of growth, exploration and vulnerability. As teens face increasing peer pressure feel the need to be accepted by their peers, many experiment with alcohol in order to “fit in”, rebel against their parents and to have fun. The average age that a young person first starts experimenting with alcohol is 12 years of age, and it is estimated that every day in the United States, more than 4,750 young people underthe age of 16 will take their first drink of alcohol. With its easy availability and low cost, alcohol is a cheap and dangerous high for teenagers.

Why Alcohol is So Dangerous to Teenagers

Young man sitting drinking alone at a table with two bottles of liquor
During the teenage years, both the body and brain are in crucial stages of development. Alcohol use and abuse has direct impacts on brain functioning, especially in the pre-frontal cortex. The pre-frontal cortex is the area that regulates decision making, impulse control, planning and working memory. Alcohol use can cause significant impairments to their cognitive development, and the impulsivity, aggressive and novelty-seeking behavior that teens display when under the influence often has serious consequences. While teenagers may drink less than adults, teenagers tend to binge drink more than adults.

Teenagers that abuse alcohol have an increased risk of physical and sexual assault and contributes to the likelihood they will engage in unsafe sexual practices. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism also leads to poor performance in school and long-term memory problems that can last into adulthood. According to data provided by Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD), 32% of all deaths attributed to teenage alcohol use where traffic related. Additionally, alcohol abuse and alcoholism among teenagers leads to increased rates of homicide and suicide within that age group.

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Factors That Lead To Teenage Alcoholism

The development of teenage alcoholism can be due to several factors. Along with peer pressure, television and social media perpetuate and promote drinking behaviors through constant advertising, music videos and television shows. Teens that are in households where parents or inconsistent and severe in disciplining methods also run in increased risk in developing alcoholism. Teenage alcoholism is also prevalent in households where there is little parental supervision or communication and family conflict. Teenagers who are alcoholics often have family members who are alcoholic or have battled alcoholism in the past. Teenagers who abuse alcohol can often have an undiagnosed mental illness such as depression or anxiety. Additionally, teenagers who develop alcoholism have a history of emotional instability which can include thrill-seeking behaviors as well as problems managing impulses.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Teen Alcoholism?

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The signs of symptoms of teen alcoholism can be seen in three areas: behavioral, physical and cognitive. The behavioral symptoms of teen alcoholism can include dramatic changes in both academic performance and their choice of friends and neglecting household or other personal responsibilities. There can also be a loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable and a decline in personal appearance and hygiene. Additionally, the teen alcoholic will engage in passive and argumentative behaviors.

The physical symptoms of teen alcoholism include the smell of alcohol on their breath or their clothes. Alcoholic teens also experience bloodshot eyes, a reddening or flushing of the skin and having dramatic changes in the sleeping patterns. Additionally, teens who are alcoholic can experience double vision, significant coordination problems and have slurred and garbled speech. Among the cognitive symptoms of teen alcoholism include difficulty in concentrating and short-term memory deficits.

Does Your Teen Need Help Breaking Free From Alcoholism? PBI Can Help

If your teenager is struggling with alcohol abuse and alcoholism, the physical and psychological effects of this disease can have devastating impacts on your teen and your family. The Adolescent Addiction Treatment program offered at PBI can help your addicted teen and your family heal and help bring forth recovery. The experienced treatment staff at PBI employs a multi-disciplinary approach in created an individualized plan of treatment and recovery for your teen that will give them the best chance to break the cycle of addiction. For quality treatment done with compassion and respect, call PBI today and start on the road to recovery.

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