Most underage drinkers and even adult drinkers often indulge for social reasons. Alcohol can lower your inhibitions and make you feel good, free, and buzzed. But what many adult and most underage drinkers don’t understand is how easy it is to abuse alcohol. Because alcohol lowers your inhibitions, it can be terribly easy to have one too many drinks far too often–especially if you don’t have the accountability that maturity and wise friends can give you. If you’re at a party drinking with other teenagers, chances are, you’re not very concerned about limiting yourself to one drink– as a more moderation-conscientious adult might do.
But what is that second, third, fourth, fifth drink doing to your body? If you’re indulging in alcoholic drinks as a teen or indulging in too many drinks as an adult, you could be heading towards alcohol abuse–the first BAD roadblock on the way to alcoholism. What is alcohol abuse?
“Alcohol abuse is defined as a pattern of drinking that can affect social and emotional responsibilities and even result in legal problems. When a person abuses alcohol, his or her drinking habits can harm his or her health or cause injury to the abuser or others.” From Lakeview Health Systems
PARENTS and FRIENDS: What are some signs of alcohol or drug abuse to look for in your children, friends, or fellow teens:
>> The odor of alcohol can be found on their breath
>> Frequent changes in mood or attitude that may coincide with avoidance and hiding behaviors
>> Loss of interest in previous activities
>> Developmental difficulties arise
>> They seem depressed and secretive
>> Alcohol disappears from their home
>> An increase in party behavior
Isolated signs may not be an indication of alcohol abuse, but if many of these signs are seen together, try talking with your child or friend about their activities. Be open to what they have to say, but firm about the fact that abusing alcohol to cope with emotions or to fit into a social group can seriously harm their health, result in death, or ruin their emotional well-being. Most teens are aware of the dangers that alcohol can bring, but be sure to remind them of these risks.
What can parents do to help their child avoid alcohol abuse?
>> Be aware of where your teens are hanging out
>> Meet your teen’s friends and only allow them to associate with those whom you feel comfortable with and who are a good influence
>> Set curfews and limits on their independent activity
>> Know the parents of your teen’s friends
>> Encourage your teen to make independent, wise choices for their health and well-being
>> Have your child text you periodically if they are away from home for an extended period of time to check in with you.
Helpful resources on this subject: Dangers to Your Health: Alcohol Abuse // Kids and Alcohol // Stop Underage Drinking