Is your teen drinking? Underage drinking is a serious public health problem in the United States. Alcohol is the most widely used substance of abuse among America’s youth, and drinking by young people poses enormous health and safety risks.
The consequences of underage drinking can affect everyone—regardless of age or drinking status. We all feel the effects of the aggressive behavior, property damage, injuries, violence, and deaths that can result from underage drinking. This is not simply a problem for some families—it is a nationwide concern.
While many parents of teens don’t think their children would ever drink, the truth is, most teens experiment with alcohol. It’s important to know the warning signs that your teen has been drinking.
Signs before drinking happens
Teens who are planning a party or gathering where they will be drinking usually show several telltale signs. Be on the lookout for:
Your teen carrying a duffel, tote bag, or even a school backpack. They may be transporting alcohol from your home to the party.
Hushed tones and whispers when your teen uses the phone. Of course, in today’s world, many teens are communicating via text or social media as well, so monitor your teen’s accounts.
Evasive answers to questions about their activities. If your teen hesitates when you ask what they’re doing, it could be a sign they’re trying to think of a good cover story.
Asking to spend the night. If your teen insists they want to stay over at a friend’s house, it may mean they don’t want to come home under the influence.
Any of these signals are cause for you to check further by talking to your teen about your suspicions. You can always check with other parents as well.
Signs your teen has been drinking
Adolescence is a time of change and growth, including behavior changes. These changes usually are a normal part of growing up but sometimes can point to an alcohol problem. Parents and teachers should pay close attention to the following warning signs that may indicate underage drinking:
- Changes in mood, including anger and irritability
- Academic and/or behavioral problems in school
- Rebelliousness, anger, rage
- Changing groups of friends
- Low energy level
- Less interest in activities and/or care in appearance
- Finding alcohol among a young person’s things
- Smelling alcohol on a young person’s breath
- Problems concentrating and/or remembering
- Slurred speech
- Experiencing school problems, poor attendance, low grades, and/or recent disciplinary action
- Breaking family rules and curfew
- Lying, stealing
- Changing friends and peer groups, not allowing you to meet their new friends
- Having a sloppy appearance, lack of personal hygiene
- Losing interest in their once favorite sports, hobbies
- Poor concentration
- Withdrawing from family events
Have you exhausted your local resources in getting your teen help for drinking? It might be time to consider residential treatment for your struggling teen. Learn more about why behavior modification treatment works when home therapy fails. Contact us for more information.
Sources: VeryWellFamily.com and NIH (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)