Teen Alcohol Abuse at School – Is It a Problem?

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Teen alcohol abuse often stems from what goes on in schools – not necessarily in the classroom, but within their social spheres.  While it can be difficult for teens to bring alcohol into schools, the ideas and plans for alcohol abuse often begin in school among their peers.

Peer Pressure

Most teens don’t decide to wake up one day and have several drinks. Peer pressure is a common risk factor in the determining whether or not your child will engage in teen alcohol abuse. Teens can be pressured to drink to look cool, to fit in, to “relax”, to be popular or for any of a combination of these and other reasons. A teen who is totally uninterested in consuming alcohol may quickly change his or her mind about drinking based on who is offering the drinks and social and environmental considerations.  This peer pressure can happen in social settings, but also at school.

Parties, School Functions and Field Trips

School security and in-the-know school officials typically make it very difficult for students to abuse alcohol in school undetected. Private parties, visiting friends’ homes without the presence of adults, going to field trips and school functions including school dances and proms are circumstances when your child may be confronted with the suggestion of teen alcohol abuse. The point is not to ban your child from participating in social activities but to speak to them about teen alcohol abuse beforehand in anticipation of any temptations that may arise.

School Absences and Skipping Classes

Pay attention to days missed from school as well as complaints from school about skipped classes. These are red flags for potential substance abuse and other dangerous activities.  Teens often feel that their actions lack consequences, but will try to hide their actions anyway.  Teens without the opportunity to use substances after school may try to find the opportunity by skipping school or leaving school for periods of time during the day.

The Consequences and Dangers of Teen Alcohol Abuse

The best thing you can do for your teen is to speak openly and honestly about the dangers and consequences of teen alcohol abuse. Explain why it is illegal for individuals under the age of 21 to consume alcohol in regards to the effects of alcohol on the body and mind including health risks, impaired judgment, and the destruction of their future. Alcohol abuse can lead to poor school performance, problems with memory, focus and concentration, lowered motivation, health problems, relationship problems and more. Consuming too much alcohol can even lead to fatality in the form of alcohol poisoning or as a result of accidents or incidents due to intoxication including drunk driving.

While teen alcohol abuse may not be a physical problem in the school environment, it is important that parents and teachers are aware that many of the risk factors for drug and alcohol abuse do occur at school.  Keeping the lines of communication open, watching for potential signs and not ignoring school as a potential place for drug or alcohol abuse are important tools for adults in the fight against teen alcohol abuse.