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Is My Child Drinking? 5 Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

Oxford, MS

Parenting is a rewarding yet challenging journey, especially when it comes to navigating the teenage years. As your child enters adolescence, it's natural to be concerned about their well-being, including the possibility of them engaging in risky behaviors such as alcohol consumption. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that alcohol is the most widely used substance by American youth. It's essential for parents to be vigilant and recognize potential signs of alcohol use, especially since experimentation with substance use can go hand in hand with other mental health struggles – with a co-occurring rate of up to 71%, according to the National Library of Medicine. In this blog, we'll discuss five signs that you shouldn't ignore if you suspect your child might be drinking, so you can get them the help they need. 


Sudden Changes in Behavior


One of the first indicators that your adolescent might be experimenting with alcohol is a noticeable shift in their behavior. If your once outgoing and communicative teenager becomes withdrawn, irritable, or secretive, it could be a cause for concern. Pay attention to abrupt changes in friendships, interests, and overall mood, as these may be red flags indicating possible alcohol use.

Decline in Academic Performance


Keep a close eye on your child's academic performance. If you notice a sudden decline in grades, incomplete assignments, or a lack of interest in school activities, it could be a sign that alcohol is affecting their ability to focus and concentrate. Alcohol use can impair cognitive function, leading to difficulties in learning and retaining information.

Physical Signs and Symptoms


Alcohol consumption often comes with noticeable physical signs. Keep an eye out for bloodshot eyes, unexplained bruises, or a persistent smell of alcohol on your child's breath or clothing. Sudden weight loss or gain, changes in appetite, and poor personal hygiene can also be indicative of substance use.

Social Isolation


Adolescence is a time when friendships and social circles play a crucial role in a child's life. If you observe your child distancing themselves from friends and family or abandoning previously enjoyed activities, it may be a sign of alcohol-related issues. Teenagers struggling with substance use may choose isolation as a way to hide their behavior or avoid confronting concerned loved ones.

Frequent Mood Swings and Irritability


Adolescence is marked by hormonal changes that can contribute to mood swings, but excessive irritability and unpredictable emotional reactions may be linked to substance abuse. If your child becomes defensive or hostile when questioned about their activities, it's essential to address the issue delicately. Open communication and a non-judgmental approach can encourage your child to share their struggles.


Being a parent requires a delicate balance of trust and vigilance. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that early onset substance use is the foremost risk factor for substance abuse issues later in adulthood. Early intervention and communication can make a significant difference in steering your child away from potentially harmful behaviors. 

Seeking professional help can be beneficial in addressing the root causes of substance use and supporting your child's overall well-being. Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center is here to be a source of support, help, and healing if your family needs help navigating your adolescent’s risky behaviors and mental health concerns. Contact us today to get help that gives you your family back, better.