Teen Drinking and Alcohol: What Influences Teen Drinking?

Most adults have gone through a time when binge drinking with friends was a fun pastime. Having fun and letting loose before adult life and responsibilities set in.

That’s how you’re supposed to spend your teen and college years, isn’t it?

Even though underage drinking is considered to be at an all-time low, it is still a concern for many. While not of concern as an occasional event, these behaviors can be dangerous and lead to binge drinking and additional problems throughout their adult years.

It’s important to understand why teenagers are drinking. What influences them to drink?

There are many factors at play including peer pressure, stress, genetics, and social and environmental factors. One of the most important of these is the group of people they surround themselves with. This includes the modern issue of social media as well.

Seventy-five percent of youth surveyed said seeing pictures or videos of their peers partying on social media encouraged them to do the same. Let’s take a more in-depth look at what encourages adolescents to drink alcohol, and why many of these factors can be dangerous.

Friends & Peers: You Are Who You Hang Out With

If you remember your high school days with any clarity, you probably can recall what it was like to want to fit in with other students. Of course, you wanted to be unique and forge your own path, but blending in was also vital to your social survival.

It was the topic of many health classes, D.A.R.E to say no to drugs and alcohol, even when peer pressure felt like it was enough to crush you. However, a study from Indiana University tells us that close friends are much more influential than the collective whole. In a survey conducted with a group of 15-year-olds, these teens say they are less likely to experiment with alcohol if they did not believe their friends were doing the same.

So what should this study tell parents?

In short, if you think your teen has been drinking, especially at a dangerous level, start looking at their close friend group. Their friends could be a bad influence, which means you need to start having conversations with your child and explain to them why drinking heavy amounts is dangerous to their health, both present and future.

Parents > Everything Else

While it might seem that knowing the influence of friends plays a major role in your teenager’s decision-making can be a major relief, it is not the only factor to consider.

Actually, what parents say and do influences teen choices more than anything or anybody else. Research shows teens whose parents talk to them about drinking are much less likely than other teens to drink.

This means your child is paying attention to you and the behavior that you are modeling, be it good or bad. If adults in your teen’s life drink heavily, they may think this is normal, and may mimic this behavior. As we mentioned earlier, simply talking to your teen about drinking and its consequences can be enough.

This means parents have a major tool when it comes to helping their child abstain from alcohol use. Sure, peers and friends play a role in the decisions our teens make. They, however, aren’t the most influential people. By simply talking and modeling good behavior, parents are able to set a great example for their children.

To take things even a step further, being active in getting to know your child’s friend group can also be beneficial.

My Teen Is Still Drinking Alcohol, What Else Can I Do To Help and Get Treatment?

If you’ve realized your child is acting out of character and drinking more than usual, that is an essential first step. You have to be honest and open to identifying there is a problem before taking steps to fix it. One potential solution is to get them to see an adolescent psychiatrist.

If these issues go unnoticed for too long, it can cause serious issues down the road. The next step?

Communicate with your child openly. Ask them about these new changes in their lives, any emotions they might be feeling or why they’ve started drinking so heavily. It’s important for your teen to know that if they are suffering from mental illness and self-medicating as a result, that there is help and they are not alone.

The mistake most parents make is to take the authoritarian approach:

“This is not allowed,”

“Stop this right now,”

“You’re going to ruin your life,”

This usually just pushes the teen further away and deeper into alcohol use. Avoid shaming them or blaming them.

Work to understand why your teen is using, then work with them to find different solutions. Talk to them about what they want to achieve in life and how they can get there.

When you talk with your child, just listen at first.  This can be the most important thing you can do. Making them feel like they can be open and honest can help them feel supported and less alone.

It can also be beneficial to talk to their teachers, or their friends, to know how your teen behaves when they aren’t with you. This could be especially helpful if your child is not willing to talk openly with you about what they are struggling with.

Now you’re probably wondering what the next step in the alcoholism treatment program is, what options are out there, and how they can help them stop drinking and learn alternative ways to cope.

Alcohol Free Treatment Program Options for Your Child

Even though each mental health diagnosis and teen is different, if your child is drinking because they are struggling with mental illness, it could be beneficial for your teen to go through an alcoholism treatment program that includes dual-diagnosis treatment.

What does this mean? Dual-diagnosis treatment helps to treat both the substance abuse disorder and underlying mental illnesses causing it. Learning alternative ways to cope that don’t involve alcohol is one of the main goals during treatment.

Alcoholism treatment programs can be done as an in-patient or out-patient rehab. The main difference between these options is in-patient rehab allows your child to reside in a rehab facility for 30 days, 24 hours a day and is a more intensive treatment option.

Out-patient rehab allows your teen to attend therapy sessions and other forms of treatment for a few hours a week but can remain living at home. This is a more popular option for adolescents as they’re able to receive treatment and still continue with their everyday lives. But at the end of the day, every case is different and this decision is based on what works for you and your family.

Get Treatment: Bricolage Behavioral Health is Here for the Teens of Flower Mound

Our staff at Bricolage Behavioral Health understand how heartbreaking it can be to watch your child suffer in any way. We’re here to help you and your family get your child’s life back on track with our alcoholism treatment program that focuses on mental health.

Located on Long Prairie Road, near Firewheel Drive and the Montessori Rainbow School, and close to one of Flower Mound’s large residential areas, we are convenient to reach out to.

Seek professional help for your teen before it spirals out of control. Bricolage will make sure your child is in the right hands.

Call Bricolage Behavioral Health for a Mental Health Assessment for Your Child or Teen Today: 469-968-5700.

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