Teens are notorious for making poor decisions as the part of their brain that deals with cause and effect relationships, the prefrontal cortex, does not finish maturing until around age 25. They often don’t accurately gauge the repercussions of alcohol abuse. Teens often have mood swings, highs and lows, and depression, all of which can make deciphering whether your teen has an alcohol problem or is just hormonal difficult. Alcohol is the most abused drug by teens in America so it is imperative to know when your child is at risk.
Symptoms of Abuse
Teens will often exhibit certain behaviors when alcohol use becomes abuse, but some teens are better at hiding these things. Be sure to be engaged, present, and talk to your teens, but also look for:
- Drastic changes in academic performance. When grades slips across the board dramatically, there is usually something at play beyond laziness.
- New friends. If your teen all of a sudden has a completely new set of friends, talk to them. What is drawing them to this new crowd?
- Onset of depression, anxiety, and mood swings.
- Slurred speech, red/flushed skin, glazed eyes can all be indicators of excessive alcohol use.
Get on board with the other parent and come up with a plan. Agree to work on this together and in the best interest of your teenager. Gather any evidence you may need, such as proof of failing grades, empty alcohol bottles, and episode of slurred speech, etc. Expect your teen to be upset, scared, guilty, or angry. Resolve to be calm and solution oriented and refuse to engage in arguments.
Make Expectations Clear
Don’t be surprised if your teen denies any use or abuse with the first conversation. Set clear, concise, and consistent rules. Have your teen offer their input on consequences if the rules are broken, but ultimately remember that it is up to you to enforce consequences. With your help, your teen can overcome alcohol abuse.