One of the most telling signs of alcoholism in a teen is when the teen connects drinking with his or her emotions.
Examples include drinking heavily in celebration after winning a soccer game or conversely, binge drinking following the termination of a romantic relationship. These are clear signs pointing toward alcoholism. Whether or not your teen is en route to harboring the disease may be in question. Red flags signaling a higher chance of alcoholism are varied.
Teen Alcoholism Warning Signs
However, be wary if your teen:
- Turns to alcohol to suppress feelings of anger
- Drinks to relieve feelings of sadness
- Self-medicates/self-soothes with alcohol
- Drinks during the weekdays or during the day
- Drinks progressively more over time, i.e. builds a tolerance
- Fails to show up for school, sports, clubs, or other obligations
- Uses alcohol to facilitate falling asleep, or any similarly unorthodox “reasons”
This is the biggest sign that your child needs teen treatment. Losing ground at school can fuel the cycle of alcohol abuse as your child loses their self esteem as they continue to get bad grades or get held back a year. Noticing when your teen’s grades start to slip in conjunction with alcohol abuse is a good signifier that your child needs teen alcohol rehab sooner rather than later.
If your teen has been hanging out with the same friends for years and suddenly does an about-face and begins to hang out with a crowd who drinks, then this is an issue that can signify the need for teen alcohol rehab. Friends can be very influential to your teen, and if your child is lying to hang out with people who drink or consistently get in trouble with the same group of friends and telling them not to spend time with them anymore doesn’t work and alcohol abuse increases, this can be a sign your child needs teen alcohol rehab.
Changes in your teen’s appearance can be huge when alcohol abuse is a factor – and it’s generally not a change for the better. Hygiene slips, clothes become shabbier. They may not be concerned about wearing clean clothes or taking care of themselves. Certainly there is rarely any pride taken in their appearance. While this can be a sign of a normal teenager, when it comes with alcohol abuse, it can also be a sign that your teen needs alcohol rehab.
Noting the changes in attitude that a teen exhibits and determining whether or not it is attributable to alcohol abuse or typical teen development is difficult. This is only a sign that your child needs teen rehab when it comes along with one or more of the other signs listed here and your child is actively abusing alcohol on a regular basis.
Secretiveness and hiding the fact that they drink is a common sign of alcohol abuse among teens. Cognitively, they understand that they will get in trouble for drinking and that it’s not good for them. When they continue the behavior, they have to take steps to make sure you don’t find out. To that end, they may be lying to you about where they’re going or what they’re doing. If you know that a friend of theirs drinks, they will likely lie to you about spending time with that person.
Noticing when your child is lying and following up on their actual activities may give them a chance to come clean. If the behavior continues and you know that they are drinking behind your back, then your teen may need alcohol rehab.
Teens with older siblings, as well as teens that hang out with older friends, are more likely to find themselves drinking. Thus, it’s often hard to identify the aforementioned behaviors. Sometimes the best source of information as to the depth of your teen’s alcohol usage lies within your teen’s friends. They have the most up-close and personal perspective on your teen’s behaviors while around friends, which can differ from the teen’s persona around family members.
Although your teen’s friend may be reticent about “ratting out” their friend at first, they will surely be open to helping out once they realize you are simply concerned parents. In addition, when the request for information is framed in a passionate and empathetic fashion, the teen will be more likely to respond truthfully. If the exchange is thought to be based on punitive, disciplinary motives, the teen’s friend will likely omit key information to help you grasp the extent of your teen’s alcoholism.
Signs Your Teen has been Drinking
If you’re unsure as to whether your child is intoxicated, try giving them a hug after chatting with them. If you smell alcohol on their breath, this is a sure sign they have been drinking.
In addition, check for an unusually argumentative or agreeable disposition and physical signs of alcoholism, including bloodshot eyes, slowed or slurred speech, increased fatigue, and deteriorating personal hygiene. Finally, if you ask your teen straight-on if he/she has been drinking, be wary if the response is defiant. Defensiveness may indicate denial, discomfort, or deviant truths.
Perhaps your teen daughter used to spend a lot of time prepping for school by picking out an outfit the night before, straightening her hair, and painting her nails. You start to notice that these things slide in conjunction with the strange behaviors like slurred speech or going straight into their rooms rather than sitting and talking in the living room like they used to after school.
After all, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, “alcoholism (alcohol dependence) is a negative pattern of alcohol use leading to a number of problems, which may include needing more alcohol to get intoxicated (tolerance), difficulties that occur when the effects of alcohol wear off (withdrawal), using more alcohol or for longer time than intended, and other life problems because of the use of alcohol,” Medicine Net posts. These problems are a characteristic of chronic alcoholism, a more severe case of alcohol abuse.
You may rationalize their behavior saying, “I drank a little when I was younger, and I turned out okay.” You may classify your teen’s drinking as experimentation and nothing more.
To be clear: if your child sneaks a sip of your drink at a wedding or comes home drunk one night, he or she does not need teen alcohol rehab. However, if there are clear signs that his or her use is more than just a one-time thing, then you may need to consider the health of your teenager and determine whether or not your teen needs alcohol rehab.
If you need support, we are here and we can help. Don’t let your child live in alcohol abuse another day.