The most widely used drug by teens is alcohol, and, as a result, it’s also one of the biggest problems. Unfortunately, many parents don’t understand or underestimate the dangers teens face when using alcohol. According to statistics presented by the U.S. Surgeon General, there are an estimated 5,000 individuals under the age of 21 dying annually as a result of underage drinking. At our North Carolina adolescent treatment center, we understand the signs of underage drinking and why that’s important. If your teen struggles with underage drinking, it’s essential to seek treatment at an alcohol addiction treatment center.
Determining the Signs of Underage Drinking
If you believe your teen is consuming alcohol, there are some signs of underage drinking you can look for, including:
- Difficulty with memory or concentration
- Has slurred speech or coordination issues
- Has a slower reaction time
- Disruption of sleep patterns or excessive sleepiness
- Has poor vision compared to normal
Signs of Excessive Underage Drinking
While the symptoms of underage drinking listed above are concerning, there are other signs that your teen might be using excessive amounts of alcohol. Those signs include:
- Grades dropping, poor attendance, discipline issues, or other school problems
- Is more rebellious against family rules compared to usual
- Breaks curfew, lies or steals
- Changes friendships and is reluctant to discuss who these new friends are
- Their appearance is sloppier than usual
- No longer has an interest in participating in what used to interest them
Looking at Teen Alcohol Use Statistics
A 2018 national survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates that 139.8 million Americans ages 12 and older used alcohol the previous month. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH) teaches us that during 2018, approximately 7.1 million individuals between 12 and 20 stated they took more than a few sips of alcohol during the last month. Those same statistics reveal that, by the time an individual reaches 15, at least 29.8% have consumed at least one alcoholic beverage.
The Mental Impact of Teen Alcohol Use
Understanding the signs of underage drinking also involves learning about the mental impact of its use. For example, if you notice that your child is exhibiting mood changes or they’re more defensive than usual, that could be signs of underage drinking. If they have an attitude that nothing matters, that could also indicate an issue. Other mental changes include experiencing lapses in memory or poor coordination.
More statistics from the NIH show us that, when alcohol use occurs during an individual’s teen years, they’re at higher risk for it interfering with their brain development. As a result, they’re more susceptible to developing alcohol use disorder.
About the Risks of Underage Drinking
Many who participate in underage drinking don’t believe it’s a big deal or that there are any risks. However, that’s not true, and parents must teach their children about them. Examples of some of the risks associated with underage drinking include:
- Becoming involved with other substances, including illicit drugs
- Damaging their opportunities or reputation
- Engagement of risky behaviors
- Impaired judgment at home or in public
- Increased risk of losing memory or blacking out
- Increased risk of sexual or physical assaults
It’s tricky for many parents to balance concerns for their children and to respect their need for independence. However, no one should accept the idea of their child abusing alcohol or risking damage to their relationships or lives as a result of that use. Unfortunately, using copious amounts of alcohol can lead to mental health problems. If your teen struggles with both addiction and mental health, co-occurring treatment is critical.
Are you concerned that you might be witnessing some signs of underage drinking in your child? Do you worry that their alcohol use is becoming a problem? No one should have to go through these situations without help. Contact us today at 866.300.5275 to understand why it’s critical to know the signs of underage drinking and how we can offer assistance.