Abusing alcohol at any age is bad for you. But for teenagers, it can be particularly dangerous. The younger a person is when the alcohol abuse begins, the more likely it is that long lasting health consequences will emerge. Not only that, but are there legal consequences to underage drinking. Teen alcohol abuse can affect a person for the rest of your life.
One of the main issues with teenage alcohol abuse is that teenagers’ brains are still developing. The brain is fully developed at around age 25. Also, while adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part, teens process information with the amygdala or the emotional part. Therefore, teens do not often consider the long term effects of a decision as an adult would. Alcohol abuse during teenage years can affect the development of the brain.
Another major concern of teen alcohol abuse is that it will make teens more likely to abuse alcohol later in their adult lives, even if the abuse was relatively short. So, making a mistake at age 17 truly could have a lifelong effect on health and future job and family.
Parents wanting to head off the problem before the abuse becomes unmanageable and lead to legal problems or health risks can look for signs of alcohol abuse in their teenage children. Some of the signs of teen alcohol abuse include:
• Lowering of grades in school
• Uninterested in the things that they enjoyed in the past
• Being secretive and telling lies
• Having new friends that the parent does not know anything about
• Being tired all the time and/or being nauseous
• A negative change in attitude
Parents who strive to maintain an open dialogue with their children about the potential risks of teenage alcohol abuse can possibly prevent a serious problem before it begins. If you suspect that your teenager is abusing alcohol there are many resources that are available to help you deal with the problem. Many professionals that are available to help, even school guidance counsellors are trained with helping teenage substance abuse problems. Another resource a concerned parent can rely upon is the SAMHSA National Substance abuse hotline. This hotline and website is an excellent source of information on substance abuse. SAMHSA’s National Helpline is free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.