Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused drugs among teenagers, and, despite what some parents might believe, this is not a substance that should be taken lightly. Alcohol is a psychoactive substance, and, although its use is widely socially acceptable – and indeed, often even encouraged-, this does not mean that alcohol use is safe. This is especially true when it comes to alcohol use in teens. Below you will find the top three important basic facts about alcohol use in teens:
1. Drinking as a teen is very dangerous.
Drinking as a teenager poses a number of risks to your child; some of these drinking risks you yourself share as an adult, and some are unique only to teenaged drinkers. If a child drinks alcohol at a young age, statistically, they are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors. Children who drink before the age of fifteen, for example, are four times more likely to develop a dependence on alcohol than those who begin drinking at the legal age of twenty-one. Teens who drink illegally are also more likely to try other illegal drugs. Those who drink alcohol before age fifteen are over twenty-two times more likely to smoke marijuana, and they’re fifty times more likely to use cocaine than their non-drinking teenaged counterparts. Moreover, young teens who drink alcohol are twice as likely to engage in promiscuous sexual activity than those teenagers who choose not to drink, and experts estimate that nearly two-thirds of sexual assault and date rape cases among young people involve alcohol.
These side effects are in addition, of course, to alcohol’s many other potential dangers, such as an alcohol overdose, which could result in brain damage, coma, or even death. Alcohol abuse is also responsible for a number of car accidents, homicides, and other violent and sometimes deadly incidents each year. As you can see, despite alcohol’s widespread acceptance in social situations, teen drinking is a serious issue and can pose a number of dangerous consequences to your child.
2. Teen drinking is relatively easy to spot.
Fortunately, unlike some other drugs, alcohol use is rather easy to pinpoint in your teen. Because alcohol use is so common, the symptoms of alcohol use are very well-known. If your teen is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, especially if they’re accompanied by an odor of alcohol, then there is a good chance that your son or daughter is intoxicated:
- Slurred speech
- Impaired balance
- Loss of muscle coordination
- Flushed face
- Erratic behavior
- Apparent Euphoria
If you suspect that your teen could be abusing alcohol, it is also important to consider your family history. Teens from a family with a history of alcohol abuse are much more likely to develop a dependence on alcohol themselves, so you should consider this when attempting to help your teen.
3. It’s possible to discourage your teen from drinking.
Lucky for parents, there is hope in discouraging your teen from abusing alcohol. Although some degree of teenage rebellion and experimentation is nearly inevitable (and alcohol is a likely culprit for this type of behavior due to its ready availability and social acceptance), discussing the consequences of alcohol abuse with your teen is usually surprisingly effective at preventing them from drinking. Teens who have a close relationship with their families are much less likely to drink alcohol than teens whose parents are less involved in their lives, so as a parent, it’s essential that you make an effort to develop a meaningful relationship with your teen. It could just save their life.