My Teenager May Have Alcohol Use Disorder: What Should I Do?

Reviewed Aug 31, 2017

Close

E-mail Article

Complete form to e-mail article…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

Separate multiple recipients with a comma

Close

Sign-Up For Newsletters

Complete this form to sign-up for newsletters…

Required fields are denoted by an asterisk (*) adjacent to the label.

 

Summary

  • Common signs of alcohol overuse in teens
  • What to do

Every weekend, teens all over the United States are hanging out with their friends, watching movies, going to parties, and getting drunk.

Alcohol misuse and overuse continues to devastate the lives of teens and their families. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 30 percent of high school seniors report being drunk within the last 30 days. The trend of teen drinking is very troubling because more kids are binge drinking than ever before. For boys, binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks of any alcohol in one setting. For girls it is four drinks. There is nothing moderate or healthy about teenage drinking. Teens usually drink to get drunk.

For teens, alcohol problems can come crashing in like a tsunami or develop slowly over the course of several months. Parents must understand the tremendous pressure teens place on each other to drink. Knowing this will make you more aware of the signs of alcohol overuse.

Common signs of alcohol overuse in teens

  • Significant change in mood or attitude
  • Unexplained weight change
  • Change in eating habits
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Decline in school attendance and dropping grades
  • Losing interest in activities that used to be important
  • Defiance or rebelliousness
  • Violations of curfew and other family rules
  • Lying
  • Argumentative, highly defensive, blaming others for problems
  • Withdrawal from family activities
  • Change of friends
  • Secrecy about new friends or whereabouts
  • Missing money or valuables from household

What to do

Many parents assume that drinking alcohol is a normal part of adolescence and that their child will simply grow out of it. They might not. Don’t make the mistake of waiting for your child to hit bottom, because that may be jail, serious injury, or even death. Here are some practical steps you can take:

  • Learn more about the signs and symptoms of alcohol and substance use disorder.
  • Look at your alcohol use. Make sure that you are setting a good example for your child.
  • Don’t go it alone. Ask for help. Let a trusted friend, family, or clergy member in on the problem.
  • Get involved with your teen. It’s not too late to develop a close bond with him.
  • Tell her you love her and that you refuse to lose her to drugs or alcohol. Research shows that parents who remain connected to their child can avoid many of these kinds of problems.
  • If your child denies drinking but seems intoxicated or tells you an unbelievable story contrary to the evidence, a simple breath test will detect alcohol. These disposable breath tests are available at drug stores or online.
  • Have a zero tolerance policy for drug or alcohol use for your kids. Explain the consequences clearly.
  • When a substance abusing teen has to face the consequences of his actions, he is more interested in seeking help.
  • Never make excuses for your child’s behavior or cover up the evidence.
  • Confront your child directly. Stick to facts and feelings: “I found this alcohol in your room and I am afraid that I may lose you.”
  • Never bluff. Be willing to follow through on any actions or promises you make. Be sure to communicate your expectations clearly and calmly.
  • Contact a behavioral health or addiction expert in your community for information about education and treatment programs.

If you are concerned about your teen, talk with your doctor or to a counselor in your community.

By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS
Reviewed by Enrique Olivares, MD, FAPA, Director of Addiction Services, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Common signs of alcohol overuse in teens
  • What to do

Every weekend, teens all over the United States are hanging out with their friends, watching movies, going to parties, and getting drunk.

Alcohol misuse and overuse continues to devastate the lives of teens and their families. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 30 percent of high school seniors report being drunk within the last 30 days. The trend of teen drinking is very troubling because more kids are binge drinking than ever before. For boys, binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks of any alcohol in one setting. For girls it is four drinks. There is nothing moderate or healthy about teenage drinking. Teens usually drink to get drunk.

For teens, alcohol problems can come crashing in like a tsunami or develop slowly over the course of several months. Parents must understand the tremendous pressure teens place on each other to drink. Knowing this will make you more aware of the signs of alcohol overuse.

Common signs of alcohol overuse in teens

  • Significant change in mood or attitude
  • Unexplained weight change
  • Change in eating habits
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Decline in school attendance and dropping grades
  • Losing interest in activities that used to be important
  • Defiance or rebelliousness
  • Violations of curfew and other family rules
  • Lying
  • Argumentative, highly defensive, blaming others for problems
  • Withdrawal from family activities
  • Change of friends
  • Secrecy about new friends or whereabouts
  • Missing money or valuables from household

What to do

Many parents assume that drinking alcohol is a normal part of adolescence and that their child will simply grow out of it. They might not. Don’t make the mistake of waiting for your child to hit bottom, because that may be jail, serious injury, or even death. Here are some practical steps you can take:

  • Learn more about the signs and symptoms of alcohol and substance use disorder.
  • Look at your alcohol use. Make sure that you are setting a good example for your child.
  • Don’t go it alone. Ask for help. Let a trusted friend, family, or clergy member in on the problem.
  • Get involved with your teen. It’s not too late to develop a close bond with him.
  • Tell her you love her and that you refuse to lose her to drugs or alcohol. Research shows that parents who remain connected to their child can avoid many of these kinds of problems.
  • If your child denies drinking but seems intoxicated or tells you an unbelievable story contrary to the evidence, a simple breath test will detect alcohol. These disposable breath tests are available at drug stores or online.
  • Have a zero tolerance policy for drug or alcohol use for your kids. Explain the consequences clearly.
  • When a substance abusing teen has to face the consequences of his actions, he is more interested in seeking help.
  • Never make excuses for your child’s behavior or cover up the evidence.
  • Confront your child directly. Stick to facts and feelings: “I found this alcohol in your room and I am afraid that I may lose you.”
  • Never bluff. Be willing to follow through on any actions or promises you make. Be sure to communicate your expectations clearly and calmly.
  • Contact a behavioral health or addiction expert in your community for information about education and treatment programs.

If you are concerned about your teen, talk with your doctor or to a counselor in your community.

By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS
Reviewed by Enrique Olivares, MD, FAPA, Director of Addiction Services, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Common signs of alcohol overuse in teens
  • What to do

Every weekend, teens all over the United States are hanging out with their friends, watching movies, going to parties, and getting drunk.

Alcohol misuse and overuse continues to devastate the lives of teens and their families. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 30 percent of high school seniors report being drunk within the last 30 days. The trend of teen drinking is very troubling because more kids are binge drinking than ever before. For boys, binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks of any alcohol in one setting. For girls it is four drinks. There is nothing moderate or healthy about teenage drinking. Teens usually drink to get drunk.

For teens, alcohol problems can come crashing in like a tsunami or develop slowly over the course of several months. Parents must understand the tremendous pressure teens place on each other to drink. Knowing this will make you more aware of the signs of alcohol overuse.

Common signs of alcohol overuse in teens

  • Significant change in mood or attitude
  • Unexplained weight change
  • Change in eating habits
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Decline in school attendance and dropping grades
  • Losing interest in activities that used to be important
  • Defiance or rebelliousness
  • Violations of curfew and other family rules
  • Lying
  • Argumentative, highly defensive, blaming others for problems
  • Withdrawal from family activities
  • Change of friends
  • Secrecy about new friends or whereabouts
  • Missing money or valuables from household

What to do

Many parents assume that drinking alcohol is a normal part of adolescence and that their child will simply grow out of it. They might not. Don’t make the mistake of waiting for your child to hit bottom, because that may be jail, serious injury, or even death. Here are some practical steps you can take:

  • Learn more about the signs and symptoms of alcohol and substance use disorder.
  • Look at your alcohol use. Make sure that you are setting a good example for your child.
  • Don’t go it alone. Ask for help. Let a trusted friend, family, or clergy member in on the problem.
  • Get involved with your teen. It’s not too late to develop a close bond with him.
  • Tell her you love her and that you refuse to lose her to drugs or alcohol. Research shows that parents who remain connected to their child can avoid many of these kinds of problems.
  • If your child denies drinking but seems intoxicated or tells you an unbelievable story contrary to the evidence, a simple breath test will detect alcohol. These disposable breath tests are available at drug stores or online.
  • Have a zero tolerance policy for drug or alcohol use for your kids. Explain the consequences clearly.
  • When a substance abusing teen has to face the consequences of his actions, he is more interested in seeking help.
  • Never make excuses for your child’s behavior or cover up the evidence.
  • Confront your child directly. Stick to facts and feelings: “I found this alcohol in your room and I am afraid that I may lose you.”
  • Never bluff. Be willing to follow through on any actions or promises you make. Be sure to communicate your expectations clearly and calmly.
  • Contact a behavioral health or addiction expert in your community for information about education and treatment programs.

If you are concerned about your teen, talk with your doctor or to a counselor in your community.

By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS
Reviewed by Enrique Olivares, MD, FAPA, Director of Addiction Services, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

Close

  • Useful Tools

    Select a tool below

© 2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.