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How to Identify an Alcohol Problem in Teenagers

If you find that your teen has been drinking, pay close attention to the situation. Learn how to recognize signs of alcohol addiction in case your child needs help to get back to sobriety.

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3 min read

Understanding Teen Alcohol Abuse

No parent wants to face the painful question, Is my child an alcoholic? Though alcoholism can mask itself behind excuses like “normal teen experimentation,” alcohol addiction is no less severe in teens than it is in adults. In fact, many experts agree that this addiction impacts teens even more profoundly, since they are undergoing rapid physical and mental development.

Learn the signs of alcohol addiction — if you see any of them in your child, you’ll know it’s time to take action.

Teenage Alcoholism Warning Signs

girl contemplating alcohol addiction

In addition to the physical symptoms of alcohol abuse — such as alcohol poisoning — keep an eye out for behavioral tip-offs. Though this list is far from exhaustive, here are four primary symptoms of alcoholism:

  1. Amount of Drinking — Binge drinking is a serious problem in teens and adults alike. While some people may claim that getting drunk — even blacking out — is typical adolescent behavior, addiction experts disagree. Though binge drinking is an especially serious sign of alcoholism, any teen drinking within your family requires parental attention.
  2. Dependence and Withdrawal — If your teen requires increasing amounts of alcohol to get a buzz, this is a problem. It indicates that their body is growing accustomed to alcohol. Similarly, pay attention if they experience alcohol withdrawal (unpleasant physical and mental effects) when they go without a drink.
  3. Changing Behavior — If your teen’s persona alters drastically while drinking, this is a sign of an alcohol problem. It is especially concerning if they engage in dangerous behavior such as getting behind the wheel after drinking.
  4. Denial — One symptom of a problem drinker would be denying they have a problem. If you have brought up your child’s drinking habits with them and they have brushed you off or outright lied about it, this is denial.

Also note that there is a link between alcoholism and genetics. Just like heart disease, being an alcoholic runs in the family. However, having a family history of alcohol addiction does not doom a teen to suffering from the same disease — they simply need to take extra caution to avoid alcohol abuse.

How Does Drinking Become a Problem?

underage drinking stats

Alcohol addiction doesn’t happen overnight. Rather, it is a progressive disease that develops over time. Your teen might start drinking to fit in with their friends or try to numb some emotional pain. But alcohol is a powerful substance, and casual experimentation can quickly lead to addiction.

There is not a standard time period that it takes to become addicted to alcohol, but countless teens who began as “weekend warriors” end up as alcoholics. In many situations, teens don’t notice that they have a problem until they realize they cannot control their drinking. At this point, they need professional help like counseling or teen rehab.

Any help can be critical considering how many teenage deaths are caused by alcohol every year. Make sure your child isn’t a statistic.

Does Your Child Need Alcoholism Help?

If your teenager has been drinking alcohol, you need to take action now. Despite the media’s normalized portrayal of underage drinking, this behavior can cause lifelong problems for your child. While alcoholism stigma may be a strong hindrance, understand that getting your child on the road to sobriety is most important.

Your first step is to discuss this matter with an alcohol addiction specialist. At, we are available to speak confidentially with you to answer questions you may have regarding teen alcohol rehab and costs of quality care.

The earlier that you catch addiction, the better your child’s chance at recovery. Take the first step by calling us today.


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