Alcohol Use in Teenagers

Authored by Pin Ng

Edited by Alexander Bentley

Reviewed by Michael Por

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Parents Guide to Alcohol Use in Teenagers

Alcohol use in teenagers and young adults is on the rise. Teens are accessing alcohol earlier than ever and consuming more than previous levels. Many teenagers and young adults consume alcohol for the first time at home. It is the most widely available and used substance for young people to get their hands on. Nearly 11% of young people between the ages of 11 and 17 have reportedly consumed alcohol in the last 30 days11.S. A. Brown, M. McGue, J. Maggs, J. Schulenberg, R. Hingson, S. Swartzwelder, C. Martin, T. Chung, S. F. Tapert, K. Sher, K. C. Winters, C. Lowman and S. Murphy, Underage Alcohol Use: Summary of Developmental Processes and Mechanisms: Ages 16–20, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3860496/. One hundred percent of those young people claimed to have been drunk.

 

Interestingly, 61% of teens who drink alcohol do not buy alcohol. Many young people report that they take the alcohol without permission from their parents, steal it, or ask an adult to buy it for them. Most teens and young adults do not buy their own alcohol.

 

Alcohol use in teenagers is dangerous

 

Alcohol use in teenagers is very dangerous. It provides a number of risks to young people as they grow and mature. Consuming alcohol before turning 15 can significantly increases a teenager’s risk of long-term mental and physical health problems22.T. Chung, K. G. Creswell, R. Bachrach, D. B. Clark and C. S. Martin, Adolescent Binge Drinking: Developmental Context and Opportunities for Prevention, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6104966/. It also raises the risk of substance misuse disorder.

 

Statistically speaking, a teen that consumes alcohol is more likely to involve themselves in criminal activity. Teens also increase their chances of being involved in a fatal accident or being a victim of violent crime.

 

Alcohol consumption impairs a person’s judgment. In teens this can be magnified, especially if they are new to drinking alcohol. In the United States, 4,300 deaths per year are attributed to underage drinking.

Alcohol use in teenagers and addiction

 

Kids experience rapid changes to their minds, bodies, and social circles as they go through their teen years. Teenagers are inquisitive and more likely to take risks than they were just a few years before32.T. Chung, K. G. Creswell, R. Bachrach, D. B. Clark and C. S. Martin, Adolescent Binge Drinking: Developmental Context and Opportunities for Prevention, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6104966/.

 

Alcohol use disorder AUD is a condition with no single cause to determine whether a young person will become addicted to alcohol or not. Some teens become addicted to alcohol, while others do not. There are several risk factors for teenagers and young adults that may play a role in the development of AUD.

 

Risk factors of teenage alcohol use and addiction include:

 

  • Family history
  • Genetics
  • Environment/social influences
  • Psychological
  • Personality Traits/Characteristics
  • Sensitivity to Alcohol
  • Mental Health Concerns and/or Co-occurring Conditions

 

Teenagers who grow up with parents suffering from addiction are four- to 10-times more likely to suffer from addiction.

Warning signs for AUD in teens and young adults

 

If you are concerned about alcohol use in teenagers, then be aware of the following warning signs:

 

  • Appearing drunk and intoxicated
  • Alcohol smell on the breath
  • Periods of black out and loss of memory
  • Falls, injuries, and self-harm
  • Vomiting and upset tummy
  • Changes in mood and behaviors
  • Increasingly angry outbursts, irritability, rage, and rebelliousness
  • Lying, manipulating, and stealing from home
  • Tearful, sad, or depression
  • Major changes in friend groups
  • Isolation or very few friends
  • Missing school and/or problems at school
  • Staying out past a curfew
  • Alcohol missing, watered down, stolen from home
  • Drinking in public areas
  • A loss of appetite or change in eating patterns
  • Frequent headaches, lethargy, and/or low energy
  • Slurred speech, coordination issues, and/or memory blanks
  • Loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed

 

Teens with alcohol use disorder do not suffer from all of the above issues. Your child may only exhibit a few of the issues on the list.

Issues caused by alcohol use in teenagers and young adults

 

Boys are more likely to begin drinking an early age, and historically speaking, teen boys typically drink more than girls. However, the trend is now reversing as more girls are drinking early and often in life. This is also leading to binge drinking in teen girls.

 

Teenagers who consume alcohol on a regularly basis are more likely to engage in sexual acts at an early age. The risk of transmitting sexual diseases increases when teens consume alcohol. Unplanned pregnancy is another risk teens take when alcohol and sex come together.

 

It isn’t just consensual sex that alcohol plays a part in. It is thought that alcohol may be involved in around 20% of sexual assaults amongst middle-school and high school-aged teens. The numbers rise to 29% of sexual assaults at parties or group gatherings where alcohol is consumed. Remarkably, the figure increases to nearly 50% of college or university-aged students. Nearly 50% of the world’s diagnosed STDs are reported in teens and young adults between the ages of 15- and 24-years-old.

 

Teenagers and young adults can find help and specialist care at residential rehab centers such as Paradigm Teen Treatment. A residential rehab center has professional staff members capable of helping with issues such as substance use disorder, addiction, and mental health. Teens and young adults can get the treatment they need and return to life alcohol-free.

 

Previous: Teenage Self Harm

Next: Childhood Emotional Neglect

  • 1
    1.S. A. Brown, M. McGue, J. Maggs, J. Schulenberg, R. Hingson, S. Swartzwelder, C. Martin, T. Chung, S. F. Tapert, K. Sher, K. C. Winters, C. Lowman and S. Murphy, Underage Alcohol Use: Summary of Developmental Processes and Mechanisms: Ages 16–20, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3860496/
  • 2
    2.T. Chung, K. G. Creswell, R. Bachrach, D. B. Clark and C. S. Martin, Adolescent Binge Drinking: Developmental Context and Opportunities for Prevention, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6104966/
  • 3
    2.T. Chung, K. G. Creswell, R. Bachrach, D. B. Clark and C. S. Martin, Adolescent Binge Drinking: Developmental Context and Opportunities for Prevention, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 5, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6104966/
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