Alcoholism In Adolescents

Of all the alcohol consumed in the United States, teens between the ages of 12 and 20 years old are responsible for consuming 11% of it, according to the National Institute On Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism. Problematically, adolescent alcoholism is difficult to catch because they drink less often than adults. However, during their drinking episodes, they tend to binge drink, which means drinking heavily enough to increase blood alcohol content by 0.08 grams percent or more. What might start as a few experimental drinks with friends when parents are out of the house can turn into secret parties and routine hidden drinking at school, consuming alcohol by the bottle, rather than the sip.

Side Effects Of Adolescent Alcoholism

According to the Centers For Disease Control, data from 2006-2010 highlights over 4,000 deaths each year are related to the use of alcohol by teenagers under the age of 21. Alcohol had a profound effect on critical functions of the mind which impair an adolescent’s abilities including:

  • Judgment
  • Preventing risk of sexual assault
  • Motor function
  • Cognitive function
  • Decision making
  • Short term and long term memory and/or brain damage
  • Damage to function of: livers, kidneys, and other organs
  • Developmental impairment

In addition, increased alcohol abuse in adolescence often leads to developing problems later in life, which can include fully developed alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, or permanent brain damage. Alcohol abuse is also known to damage the heart, weaken the immune system, and cause internal stress all of which can lead to an increased risk of developing cancer or other diseases.

Understanding Adolescent Alcoholism

Adolescence is a vulnerable time of development, both physically and emotionally. The adolescent child is growing in their muscles, most specifically their brains. Susceptible to peer pressure, sensitive to behaviors of parents, and struggling to create an identity of self, it is easy for an adolescent to find relief or acceptance with alcohol abuse.

Signs Of Adolescent Alcoholism Or Alcohol Abuse

  • Significant change in mood or normal temperament
  • Sudden drop in academic performance
  • Reports of behavioral problems in school and extracurricular activities
  • Shift in social circles and social relations
  • Change in appearance and hygiene
  • Caught in multiple lies
  • Signs of intoxication which may include: slurred speech, stumbling, erratic behavior, hypersensitivity, extreme emotions, smell of alcohol, hangovers, nausea, vomiting, memory loss