Advice for Recognizing and Reacting to Teen Drinking Problems

Advice for Recognizing and Reacting to Teen Drinking Problems

Of the many potential problems that teenagers face, alcohol use is one that especially alarms parents.  Stories of teenage alcohol abuse and its lingering consequences leave most parents worried but unsure of what to do if they ever face such a situation.  Parents who are concerned about teen drinking can start by understanding the following causes and signs of teen drinking problems so that they can be better prepared to detect alcohol abuse and provide help.  

It benefits parents to understand that there are different reasons that teenagers might drink.  Many young people try drinking at some point to experiment, and some teens will only drink in social situations.  This kind of drinking can still be cause for concern, but many teenagers limit it or learn quickly that drinking has its downsides.  Unfortunately, some teenagers also become physically or emotionally dependent on alcohol.  These teenagers may drink more frequently, in inappropriate settings, or even alone, and this kind of drinking calls for help.

Parents may catch onto isolated alcohol use by finding paraphernalia like bottles among the teenager’s possessions or even by catching the teenager in an intoxicated state.  Parents who suspect that alcohol use may be habitual rather than social or experimental should also pay attention to emotional and behavioral changes.  Shifts in a teenager’s behavior such as mood swings and verbal or physical outbursts may reflect teen drinking problems.  Changes in a teenager’s social group and interests may also indicate that the teenager has gotten into negative behaviors.

Parents who notice signs of teen alcohol use should be sure to open up a dialogue about the problem.  Parents can remind their teenagers of the negative consequences of drinking while being receptive to whatever personal concerns or problems the teenager is willing to share.  Parents who have already talked to their teenagers or punished them without seeing a change in behavior, meanwhile, should consider seeking outside assistance.  Counseling or even rehabilitation can make a tremendous difference in resolving teen drinking problems when teenagers need a little extra help in seeing why their behavior is problematic or making a plan to actually quit.

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