Being the parent of a teenager is no easy task. Even the most dedicated and loving parents are kept at arm’s length. During this time of growth, some teens are susceptible to temptation and peer pressure. Their friends’ words are often more meaningful than those of their parents. But as parents, it’s your job to look after your teens, even if you’re not always so easily let in to their world. Here is a look at alcohol addiction warning signs in teens that might help you as you help your kids navigate their teenage years.
Alcohol is the most abused substance by people under 21. Of all the alcohol consumed in the United States, about 11 percent of that is consumed by underage youth. Alcohol is responsible for more than nearly 5,000 underage deaths each year. Binge drinking is a major reason for this, as more than 90 percent of youth drink in this form. Teens think they’re smart and can get away with drinking, but stay one step ahead of them and know the warning signs to teen alcohol abuse.
Be cognizant of your teen’s behavior. This is the first sign for you to pick up on, but it’s very tricky. That’s because there is a fine line between signs of alcoholism and just being a teen. But if your teen starts to avoid interaction with you and becomes more moody and unstable, take caution. Being easily aggravated and hostile can be a result of underage drinking.
Keep an eye out for the friends your teen makes. Our behavior reflects the five people we spend most of our time with. If your teen starts to hang out with a different crowd, or with friends that could pressure questionable choices, monitor your teen’s behavior. We don’t want to stereotype, but if your teen’s friends change, it may be time for you to gauge other warning signs as well.
Teens are preoccupied with appearance. Just as when we were in middle and high school, the look and feel of clothing is important to a student’s social standing. In fact, in many cases, it is the top priority for a teen.
If your teen starts to dramatically lose interest in his or her appearance, take note. A sudden lack of desire for a normal, tailored appearance should spark an alarm. Don’t fret over one day, but if it goes on for more than a week, and this is irregular behavior, take heed.
Poor hygiene is another physical clue that is an easy warning sign to pick up. When the time elapsed between showers starts to grow and basic hygiene—such as brushing teeth—is no longer a daily activity, it’s time to talk to your teen.
Other physical signs that can give you reason to pause are bloodshot eyes, persistent cough, weight fluctuation, and unexplained injuries. Individually, these are all rather harmless, but if these types of physical signs add up, don’t ignore them.
A third indicator that your teen might have an alcohol problem is if his or her academic performance drops. Alcohol abuse can lead to apathy. Just like a dip in physical appearance, the desire for high-achieving grades might become secondary. Don’t go into a panic over one “C,” but if you start to see “As” turn into “Cs” and “Bs” turn into “Ds,” that might be a sign that something is wrong.
Attendance is also an indicator for alcohol abuse—is your teen abnormally skipping class? There are students who are very bright and who can continue to maintain good grades even if they’re not present in class. So a parent who solely looks at grades might miss this warning sign, which is just as troubling. Your teen’s academic performance and attendance are great methods to determine whether or not your teen has an alcohol problem.
The underlying factor is all of these signs is sudden change in normal behavior. Communication is key to a healthy relationship with your son or daughter. If you can recall being a teen, it can be a tumultuous time. And the same goes for you, the parent—raising a teen is not easy on you, either. But if you start to see your child exhibit all three of these changes, it might be time to closely examine if your teen has an alcohol addiction. Feel free to call us at 877-383-2284 to speak with a representative who can give you more information.