Is your high school senior dealing with teenage alcohol abuse? Warning signs for parents.

Friday, February 8th, 2013
Teenage alcohol abuse affects every community in America.  High school is a hard time for many teens. Between peer pressure, bullying and the ever-present struggle to fit in, it’s easy for kids to feel overwhelmed both in an out of school. The senior year can be particularly difficult due to increased pressures about passing tests, choosing a college and deciding on a major. Due to the easy availability of alcohol, it’s easy for stressed-out teens to turn to substance abuse as a form of relief. While drinking won’t take away their problems, it can make them easier to ignore for a time. However, this can lead to many negative consequences, not the least of which are addiction, alcohol poisoning and health problems.

Warning Signs of Teenage Alcohol Abuse

Hangover Symptoms

One of the first signs of a teenage alcohol abuse problem is if your teen seems to be experiencing hangovers.  While it can be difficult to tell a groggy, grumpy teen from a hungover teen, there are some signs you should not ignore. Look for bloodshot eyes that they may try to hide behind sunglasses. Also, headaches are a common side effect of excessive drinking, so if they complain about this frequently or take a lot of pain relievers, be suspicious. In addition, pay attention to their eating habits. When someone has a hangover, they are often nauseous and may not be interested in eating.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol is a very short-acting substance. Symptoms of withdrawal can occur in as little as five hours after drinking, but may crop up as much as 24 hours later. Symptoms include irritability, mood swings, increased susceptibility to stress, headaches, queasiness, inability to concentrate, physical and mental clumsiness and cravings for another drink. In cases of severe withdrawal, seizures, tremors, anxiety, panic attacks and physical weakness may occur.

Hiding the Habit

If your teen has an teenage alcohol abuse problem, chances are good that they’re going to try to keep anyone from finding out. For one thing, teen drinking is illegal and they could get into serious trouble. For another, if they’re caught, that means that they’ll no longer be able to drink. To facilitate and hide their habit, they may take extreme measures. Besides planning on ways to get a drink when they’re not at home, they may also hide alcohol in their bedrooms. If you suspect a problem, a search may be in order. Look in closets, under beds and in drawers, backpacks, suitcases and other places where bottles and cans are easily hidden.

Missing Alcohol

If you have a liquor cabinet at home, this may be the first place your stressed-out teen looks for relief, especially if they’ve just begun to deal with teenage alcohol abuse. If you think that they may have been stealing drinks when you’re not around, don’t dismiss the idea. Carefully monitor the fluid levels in the bottles to see if any more goes missing. Furthermore, taste the liquor since they may have watered it down to conceal the fact that some of the original product is gone. If it turns out that they’ve been drinking it, consider putting the liquor under lock and key. This will make it much more difficult for them to take advantage of liquor in the home.

It can be difficult to confront teenage alcohol abuse in your family.  The best thing you can do is work to prevent substance abuse by supporting your family, keeping all topics on the table for discussion and staying actively involved in your teens life.  Remember that parenting doesn’t mean being a friend, it means acting in your child’s best interest.  Always confront your child from a place of love and support.