Even though the dangers of adolescent alcohol abuse are common knowledge, adults too often turn a blind eye to alcohol consumption by teenagers. In reality, there are many dangerous effects of alcohol use in teens, and alcohol remains the greatest threat to health and loss of life for underage Americans.
Here are a few noteworthy examples:
Known as one of the leading public health problems in the country, alcohol is the most frequently abused drug by teenagers in the United States. According to reports, nearly half of junior and senior high school students not only drink on a monthly basis but approximately 8% of adolescents who admit to drinking say they drink at least five or more alcoholic drinks in one sitting. In fact, underage drinkers on average consume more drinks per drinking episode than adult drinkers, often in binge drinking occasions. Moreover, research shows the average age for the first use of alcohol in 2003 was 14 years old. This is in comparison to 17.5 years of age in 1965. All told, underage drinking costs the United States economy around $24 billion per year, making adolescent alcohol abuse a national public health issue.
The transition from adolescence to young adulthood is compact. You deal with dramatic physical, emotional, and lifestyle changes and puberty. As the brain keeps developing well into our twenties, the proclivity towards risk-taking can result in experimentation with alcohol. Unfortunately, the combination of alcohol abuse while the brain continues to develop can cause long-lasting cognitive and emotional damage.
Often the visible abuse of alcohol by adolescents is accompanied by other self-destructive behaviors. And may in fact be a cry for help. In some cases, teenagers who are abusing alcohol may have a mental health condition. One not yet properly given diagnosis or treatment. And should receive a full evaluation by a psychiatrist. Ideally, one specializing in both addiction and adolescence. Outpatient therapy, both group and individual, is usually the appropriate intervention when they are signs of burgeoning alcohol abuse. Children who drink excessively are more likely to increase their alcohol intake when they enter college and adulthood.
Since 2003, the Delray Center for Healing has provided exceptional psychiatric and therapeutic care for mental health, eating, and substance use disorders. To learn more about our philosophy and treatment approach, download our free e-book, “Psychiatry Redefined,” written by our founder and medical director, Raul J. Rodriguez, MD.