Around 14.2 percent of young people between the ages of 12 and 20 engaged in binge drinking in 2013, and 1.4 million engaged in heavy drinking. Recognizing the signs of underage alcohol abuse and knowing where to turn for help is essential for ensuring early treatment for an alcohol use disorder.
Health Risks of Teenage Alcohol Abuse
The longer alcohol abuse continues, the more damage it can do to your child. Some of the dangerous effects of underage drinking include engaging in risky behaviors like driving under the influence, having unsafe sex and engaging in violence; sustaining alcohol-related injuries; dying from alcohol-related car accidents, drowning, alcohol poisoning, suicide or homicide; and perpetrating or being the victim of sexual assault. Additionally, since the brain continues to develop into a person’s twenties, normal brain development may be disrupted, and this can lead to lifelong cognitive problems. Other consequences of underage drinking may also serve as signs of alcohol abuse, according to the Centers for Disease Control. An increasing number of absences from school, poor academic performance, neglecting activities once enjoyed and physical and mental health problems may indicate alcohol abuse, as may relationship, legal and social problems.
The Importance of Getting Help
Chronic alcohol abuse usually won’t resolve itself, and it may transition into an addiction, which is characterized by continuing to drink compulsively despite the negative consequences. It generally takes more than good intentions and willpower to overcome an addiction. Getting professional help for the whole family is essential for helping your child recover successfully. A high-quality, holistic treatment program designed for youth will help your child develop the skills needed to resist cravings and cope with triggers and stress. Cognitive behavioral therapy and other traditional and alternative therapies will help your child develop a higher level of self-esteem and learn to replace self-destructive ways of thinking and behaving with healthier ones. Addiction is a family disease, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, which points out that it creates dysfunction in the home and leads to unhealthy behaviors among family members that may contribute to the addiction. These include enabling behaviors, such as making excuses for your child or not allowing her to suffer natural consequences, and co-dependent behaviors, such as sacrificing your emotional and physical health while focusing all of your energy on your addicted child. Family therapy and individual therapy for each affected family member will help you identify and curb these behaviors and learn healthy ways of communicating to restore function to the household. It can also help reduce the risk of alcohol abuse later on for other children in the household. Joining a support group for the family members of someone addicted to alcohol also helps you aid your child’s recovery by providing you with a high level of support from others who are experiencing or who have experienced similar circumstances. A support group also opens the door to a wealth of resources and information about addiction, treatment and recovery.
There is Always Hope
Hope is the foundation of recovery, and instilling hope for successful recovery in your addicted child can help him develop resilience and optimism for the future. Your child’s recovery will be built on his strengths, talents, inherent values and coping skills, and while there will likely be setbacks, these can help your child develop the necessary strategies for long-term, successful recovery. To learn more about how we can help teens suffering from alcohol addiction, contact us 877-466-0620.