Let’s face it, most teens are going to drink before they get out of high school. By 18, 69.4% of teens have tried alcohol and 41.5% drank within the last month, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. As parents, it’s important to carefully handle and recognize the signs of underage drinking. Even one single drink can be an indication of a bigger issue.
How do I Know if My Teen is Drinking?
We know that as a parent, you pride yourself on knowing your kid and their needs. In fact, we know that you are the leading expert on things related to your child- second only to them! This means that it is important for you to keep in mind that changes happen as your child grows but sometimes these changes can be signs of a significant problem. For example, signs of underage drinking include but are not limited to:
- Skipping school and Grades dropping below what you’d expect for your child or teen
- Discipline problems including talking back, being aggressive, and dismissive attitudes
- Keep in mind that many teens go through these types of changes too as they start to grow up and try to find their place as well as test boundaries, being attentive can help you recognize if it is becoming an issue.
- Coming home smelling like alcohol or alcohol going missing from around the house
Parents who have open and honest talks with their kids build trust that can change the entire family dynamic. Trust can enable your child to feel that opening up to you is their best option rather than fearing that it will lead to nagging, lectures or punishments. That isn’t to say that your cant or shouldn’t discipline your kids, but instead remember to find a way that still fosters trust for you and your child. You can start the process but having smaller conversations that build to bigger more open talks.
Discuss your general concerns about alcohol use and abuse. Talk about any family history, friends or your own life history with drinking and how it has caused problems. Talk about honesty and trust. Make sure your kid knows that with lack of trust comes lack of freedom. Finally, review the risks of drinking.
Have your kid research the risks and problems with drinking along with the effects of alcohol abuse and addiction on family and friends. Have them focus on the particular ways it causes problems for parents of teens. Once you are sure they addressed all the important points, have them present their findings at a family meeting.
Why is My Teen Drinking?
According to APA, SAMHSA, and the CDC, teens may be interested in trying alcohol for a LOT of different reasons. These reasons include:
- It’s easy to access, find and take
- Pressure from friends or family members to try it or also drink more (binge)
- It is touted in pop culture as a way to ease stress or pressure
- Seeing friends or family drinking and having fun which leads to feelings of being left behind unless they find a way to join in
So, maybe your child is feeling social pressures, maybe they are feeling like they are missing out or maybe they just want a break. It’s important to keep those channels of communication that we talked about earlier open as they are the only way that you can learn why your teen may be acting out or trying alcohol. And, if they are drinking… they aren’t alone and there are things we can do to help.
How Common is Teen Drinking?
If you’re concerned about your child drinking underage, you’re not alone. Underage drinking is, unfortunately, extremely common in Texas and across the country. According to a SAMHSA survey, about 10.98-13% of adolescents aged 12-20 binge drank in the last month.
It turns out that young adults and teens are more likely to drink than older adults. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) says that “binge drinking is five or more drinks on a single occasion for males, and four or more drinks on a single occasion for females”. More young adults and teens are participating in binge drinking than in the past. Actually, 5.1 million of the young people surveyed said that they binge drank in the last month!
Bricolage Behavioral Health is Here for the Teens of Flower Mound, Texas
The staff here at Bricolage Behavioral Health does not want teen mental health to continue being swept under the rug, and we want to help you and your family.
If you don’t know where to start on how to help your child with excessive drinking, you can read some of our blog posts that can be useful to you:
- Why Your Teen May Need an Alcoholism Treatment Program
- Importance of Therapy for Kids and Teens
- What Influences Teen Drinking?
We believe the whole family gets stronger when their kids and adolescents live both functionally and happily. We offer services like: Partial Hospitalization (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Care, and even aftercare plans! We encourage you to talk with your kids and then reach out and talk to us. Call us for a Mental Health Assessment for your teen today: 469-968-5700.