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Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused substance among teens in the U.S. Alcohol is easily and widely accessible and is used by teens even more than marijuana and cigarettes. If you think your teen may be abusing alcohol, the best thing you can do is get them treatment at an alcohol rehab center. Alcohol rehab can help your teen safely detox from alcohol, and help them change harmful attitudes and behaviors surrounding use. When left untreated, teen alcohol abuse can lead to further problems that can have a serious negative impact on their health and overall well-being.

Here’s what you need to know about teen alcohol use, along with 8 signs your teen may be abusing alcohol:

Statistics on Underage Drinking

  • Youth between the ages of 12 and 20 drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the U.S.
  • 30% of high school students report drinking some amount of alcohol within the past 30 days.
  • Every year, an estimated 5,000 youth under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking.
  • Approximately 33% of teens have had at least one drink by age 15.
  • Approximately 60% of teens have had at least one drink by age 18.
  • 5.1 million youth between the ages of 12 and 20 report that they engaged in binge drinking at least once within the past 30 days.
  • An estimated 623,000 teens between the ages of 12 and 17 suffer from alcohol use disorder.
  • Only 5.2% of youth with alcohol use disorder receive professional treatment at alcohol rehab.

Why Do Some Teens Abuse Alcohol?

Teens will experience a wide range of emotional, physical, and lifestyle changes as they transition from children into adults. Increased independence, experimentation, and peer pressure are just a few of the many reasons teens may start drinking alcohol. 

The brain continues to develop throughout a person’s twenties. Researchers say changes in brain structure and chemistry cause teens to act impulsively and take more risks without fully understanding the consequences. Some teens may drink because their family members drink and because they’re exposed to alcohol at an early age. Others may drink to cope with a mental health disorder. Research reveals that children who start drinking before the age of 12 often share similar personality characteristics including aggressiveness, hyperactivity, depression, and anxiety.

If you’re a parent, the best thing you can do is educate your teen about the effects of alcohol on the brain and body. Teens who abstain from alcohol for as long as possible often face a reduced risk for abuse and related health problems.

8 Signs of Teen Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse can lead to long-lasting changes in the brain’s structure and function—even in adults. In teens, the brain is still developing and even more susceptible to the effects of alcohol. If your teen is drinking alcohol, you’ll notice changes in their behavior, activities, and academic performance.

1. Mood Changes

Puberty and fluctuating hormones cause many teens to exhibit mood changes and mood swings, which are completely normal. However, if your teen is abusing alcohol, these personality changes may be more extreme than usual, or completely out of character. Irritability, anger, and depression are common mood changes in people who abuse alcohol.

2. Problems at School

Behavioral problems at school or a drop in grades may indicate problems with alcohol abuse. Your teen may be feeling too hungover to study and pay attention in class or be inclined to pick fights with teachers and other students. Your teen may also be preoccupied with alcohol, and devote more time to making plans to drink alcohol.

3. Decline in Personal Hygiene

People who abuse alcohol usually fail to brush their teeth or shower regularly and take less care with their personal hygiene and appearance. They may forget to do these things as a result of being under the influence, or neglect hygiene because they aren’t feeling well enough. If it seems as though your teen has stopped taking care of themselves in terms of hygiene and appearance, alcohol abuse may be the reason.

4. Worsened Health

Alcohol abuse can lead to worsened health and uncharacteristic periods of lethargy since alcohol weakens the immune system and depletes important nutrients. Symptoms like nausea and vomiting often characterize a hangover or can indicate your teen is battling illness as a result of decreased immunity. Pay attention to whether your teen seems more tired than usual or is becoming sick more frequently.

5. Different Friends

Changes in friends and peer groups may signify problems with alcohol abuse, since your teen may prefer spending more time with people who enjoy drinking, or who can supply them with alcohol. It’s not uncommon for teens to make new friends and spend time with different people, but if your teen has suddenly dropped their old friends, or is spending time with older kids or bad influences, you may have a legitimate reason to be concerned.

6. Empty Containers

Keep an eye out for beer cans and empty bottles of spirits in your trash, your teen’s room, and their car. Many teens take care to hide or dispose of such evidence, though a slip-up every now and then is possible.

7. Tampering of Alcohol

If you have alcohol in your home, check to see whether any containers are missing, diluted, or have reductions in their volume. Some teens try to hide the fact they’re drinking by adding water to spirits, or by drinking small amounts from multiple bottles. If you typically have a large selection of alcohol containers, check to see if any are missing, since your teen may think you won’t miss one bottle.

8. Physical Symptoms

Slurred speech, problems with balance and coordination, and smelling like alcohol are some tell-tale signs of alcohol abuse. If your teen drinks high amounts of alcohol regularly, it’s possible they could be physically dependent. Physical dependence on alcohol is characterized by withdrawal symptoms that occur when your teen abruptly stops drinking. Common signs of alcohol withdrawal include nausea, vomiting, sweating, tremors, insomnia, and seizures (in extreme cases).

What Alcohol Rehab Treatments Are Best for Teens?

Many alcohol detox facilities in Miami offer unique treatment programs for teens that help them safely withdraw from alcohol and teach them how to navigate everyday life as happy, successful, and sober individuals. 

Alcohol detox is the first stage of treatment for alcohol use disorder and helps people withdraw from alcohol while facing a reduced risk for complications such as seizures. Medications are often used to control withdrawal as well as provide relief from certain symptoms such as headache and shaking.

After alcohol detox, teens receive individual and group therapy that helps them identify triggers and the reasons they started drinking. Teens can also join support groups geared toward youth, and learn important skills for managing stress and peer pressure without giving in to drinking. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, and contingency management are some therapies available for teens at alcohol rehab. The staff at your teen’s alcohol rehab center will develop a customized treatment plan for your teen based on their unique situation and struggles surrounding alcohol use.

Summer House Detox Center offers alcohol detox in West Palm Beach to help teens safely recover from alcohol abuse and dependence. Contact us today at 800-719-1090 to learn more about our available alcohol detox programs. Or visit us at 13550 Memorial Highway Miami, FL 33161.