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TEENS: BREAK THROUGH THE BARRIER OF ALCOHOL ABUSE


Teen drinkingThe media is filled with stories about celebrities who get drunk, arrested for a DUI, and later enter a rehabilitative treatment center. In 2001, for example, Ben Affleck entered rehab for alcohol abuse and remained sober for over a decade. Lindsay Lohan was arrested twice for a DUI in 2007 and Johnny Depp admitted that he had a serious alcohol addiction that was destroying his life. However, he managed to stop drinking and end his addition.

Others are not so lucky. If you’re teen, the challenge of having an addiction can be tumultuous on top of the already rocky adolescent time of life. It might be challenging because you have extensive demands placed on you (school, social, and family burdens) and when Friday evening rolls around, you want to enjoy yourself. You might want to let go of the worries and stresses of your week, but how do you do that without drinking when everyone around you is already drunk?

Here are a few things you can do to keep your drinking to a minimum, or better, to avoid drinking altogether:

  1. Go out early in the night when most people are still somewhat sober, and leave early before the night gets too carried away.
  2. Bring only enough money with you to get back and forth from home. If you’re riding with your friends, then go out with as little money as you feel comfortable with. This will keep you from spending money on drinks when you’re tempted.
  3. If you do decide to participate in the ritual of ordering something at the bar, get yourself a non-alcoholic drink. You can stay cool with a drink in your hand, but not have to manage the hangover in the morning.
  4. Ask your friends to keep an eye on you so that the allure of drinking doesn’t tempt you. From a distance, it looks fun, but you know you’ll regret it later.
  5. Stay communicative with your parents. Tell them where you’re going and when you’ll be back. This will also be a way of being held accountable to a non-drinking lifestyle.

Yet, perhaps you’re past this point and you find yourself struggling with an addiction. You’re drinking to the point of ignoring other areas of your life; you’re drinking to the point of destroying your relationships, your academic career, and the health of your body.

When this happens, you might already know that it would be a good idea to get help. However, you might feel ambivalent about getting support, which keeps you stuck in the destructive cycle of drinking. Ambivalence is the experience of having mixed or contradictory feelings about something or someone. You know you need to stop but you physically and perhaps emotionally need to drink. You know you need to stop but perhaps you feel like you won’t be able to live without having alcohol by your side.

Breaking through this barrier is precisely what treatment is for. It provides the support for you to see the choices you’re making and to show you – or better, to show yourself that you can do it.

Assuming that there are no mental illnesses that co-exist with your addiction, then the primary method of treatment is a combination of medication, behavioral therapy (such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), and addressing any underlying issues (abuse, domestic violence, trauma, or loss) that might have prompted the use of drugs or alcohol in the first place.

If you do decide that you’re ready and you’re willing to make the commitment to a sober life, despite the challenges, there are many therapeutic resources available to you. These and other forms of support, such as group therapy with other teens that are struggling with an addiction too, can make all the difference in the world. With the right support, encouragement, and commitment, you can create a drug-free and healthy life.

– By Robert Hunt

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