Substance Abuse Practitioner: Underage Drinking.

Alcohol Abuse In Teenagers And How A  Substance Abuse Practitioner Can Handle It

by: Donna Planton, MA

Substance abuse has a certain connection the youth population of the world, and most of the addictions start at a young age. Whether it is use of marijuana, opium drugs or alcohol, the youth has been drawn towards these health deteriorating substances like moth to a flame. In order to help teenagers understand the alarming risks of alcohol abuse, we as parents and responsible adults must get to the root of the cause and help them part ways from alcohol addiction, which is responsible for destroying millions of families and individual lives.

Why Do Teenagers Start Drinking?

Teenagers are quite vulnerable to alcohol use and there is a good chance that you’ve had a beer or two while you were still legally young to do so. Since most of the adults around the house may enjoy a drink every now and then, which makes it easier for them to get a hold of the alcoholic drinks right at home. Teenage is a sensitive time when the person goes through groundbreaking physical and psychological changes which compels them to become risk takers or rebel against their parents by doing things they are forbidden to. The added stress of problems in their social or personal life influences teenagers to drink.

The AAR (Advancing Alcohol Responsibility) is an organization that has been supporting the cause of teen age alcohol abuse prevention for more than 20 years. A study conducted by the organization in 2013 reveals that 9 million youngsters, ranging from the age of 12 to 20 in the USA have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days. This alcohol consumption rate has been escalating ever since, with reports that alcohol consumption is prevalent in 12 year olds by 1%, 16 year olds by 18% and in 20 year olds by an alarming 52%. Almost 8% of the teenagers revealed that they usually do binge drinking, or consume more than 5 drinks in a row. These statistics have been rising every year, as many shocking cases of teen age alcohol abuse surface every day.

What Are The Causes Of Teen Age Alcohol Abuse?

It has been generally accepted that addiction to alcohol or any other substance for that matter is not the result of a singular factor. A complex environment involving genetics, social standards, psychological and physical factors are the cause of addictions. Studies show that genetics also play an important role if the teenager is born into a family where are relative is closely affected by addictions well. Although they are potentially at higher risks to develop an alcohol addiction than their peers who do not have a family history of addiction, alcohol addiction can develop in individuals without any profound family history of alcohol abuse.

Medical studies show that teenage alcohol abuse is also a root cause of underdevelopment of the brain. Teenagers who drink chronically or use it repeatedly may develop addictions easily as their still-developing brain grows affinity towards alcohol. The environment of the teenager also dictates whether they are susceptible to alcohol addiction or not. Whether it is about coping with the intense pressure of school and college, the stress of a broken family or the peer pressure among friends, drinking regularly in these situations can escalate their chances of developing a substance abuse problem.

What Are The Symptoms Of Teen Age Alcohol Abuse

The symptoms of developing alcohol abuse problem in teenagers can largely vary depending upon their genetic makeup, usage of other drugs, the amount of alcohol they consume and their frequency of drinking. However, the most common symptoms that can be used to identify a developing alcohol abuse problem in teenagers include:

Behavioral Symptoms:

  • · Sudden changes in the academic performance of the teenager.
  • · Change in the group of friends and companions.
  • · No interest in the activities that they previously enjoyed doing.
  • · Lowered care for one’s self and personal hygiene.
  • · Unusual passively aggressive and argumentative behavior.
  • · Usage of alcohol in spite of previous consequences.

Physical Symptoms:

  • · Distinctive smell of alcohol from breath or clothes.
  • · Bloodshot or glazed eyes all the time.
  • · Reddened skin and garbled speech.
  • · Deteriorated physical condition with disturbed sleeping patterns.
  • · Problems with physical coordination and double vision.

What Can Parents Do About Teen Age Alcohol Abuse?

Taking care of a normal hormone raged teenager is a mammoth task for a parent, and the added problem that alcohol brings to the table can feel overwhelming. You may not know what should you say to your kid and they may even try to avoid the conversation every time. To make sure that the conversation turns out to be meaningful, talk to your child in a relaxed environment and don’t try to discuss everything at once. If you have a friendly relationship with your child, putting your point across will be easier and meaningful.

Let Them Elaborate: Don’t start out by reading from the brochure on underage drinking to scare them about the harmful effects, rather let them tell you what they know. Their views on the issue can help you understand what they know about teenage alcohol abuse and what do they think about it.

Debunk Myths And Share Facts: Most teenagers have an image towards alcohol consumption and how it makes them socially important. It is important to make them understand that alcoholics are not the most socially accepted people in the society, but are often looked down upon. Help them understand the alcoholism is a disease, and it can easily manifest into a big problem.

Discuss Why Should Should Be Avoided: Rather than using scare tactics to make your teen more stubborn and rebellious, try reasoning with them and help them understand the effects with facts and statistics. If you have a person in the family who suffers from alcohol abuse, don’t hesitate to use them as a cautionary tale to help your teen understand how alcohol can have adverse effects.

Involve Yourself: It is true that many children are tempted to have their first experience with alcohol as they grow up seeing their parents enjoying it. You can set an example by promising them that you would stop drinking if they did, and work together to make their life alcohol free.

There may be instances when it is too late to help your teenager understand the alarming risks of alcohol addiction. In these cases, you can always look up to a medical professional who can help suggest the right rehabilitation program for your child to fight their drinking problem. Identifying teen age alcohol abuse symptoms at an early stage and with the help of professional counseling, you can prevent your child from suffering the consequences that are associated with alcohol addiction.

Become a Substance Abuse Practitioner

Do you feel a calling to work with teenagers who are addicted to substances, or adults too? If you are a health care professional or clergy who counsel, you can consider our program. The AIHCP offers a full continuing education and corresponding certification program in Substance Abuse Counseling. Completing our curriculum of distance education courses allow you to become Certified as a Substance Abuse Practitioner. To preview our program, click here.

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