As a parent or guardian helping raise a teenager, you worry about him getting good grades, making friends, learning to drive – the list goes on and on. Amid all these everyday concerns, the risk of your child experimenting with underaged drinking may never cross your mind. However, young adulthood is a very vulnerable time, and the effects of teenage alcoholism can be severe. What can you do if you suspect your teen is abusing alcohol?
Adolescent Drinking Could Pave the Way for Future Problems
Excessive stress leaves teens and adults alike susceptible to misusing substances as an unhealthy coping mechanism. Many teenagers are under intense pressure to succeed academically or in their chosen sport, so they can improve their chances of getting into an excellent college. Meanwhile, they’re simultaneously navigating a complicated social landscape that likely includes exploring their sexuality for the first time. These transitions often overlap with occasions where a teen might get exposed to underage drinking.
Young men who start drinking during adolescence may put themselves at a higher risk of developing a problematic relationship with alcohol and other substances down the road. Drugs alter brain chemistry, which can cause addiction, depression and other behavioral health issues. If you’re responsible for helping guide a teenager’s life, you have a pivotal role in ensuring he’s aware of the dangers of underage drinking, including teenage alcoholism and its potential effects on his well-being.
Teenage Substance Use Hinders Brain Development
Many adolescents deliberately push the boundaries of what they can get away with at home or school. Making friends and taking risks are essential parts of growing up, but the desire to fit in with a specific social circle might make your teen more likely to explore adolescent drinking.
No matter how sensible and level-headed your teen might be, studies have proven that the brain does not fully mature until around age 25. A teen boy’s ability to make responsible choices about his health and safety might shift to the back burner if a peer he admires pressures him to drink at a party, football game or school dance.
Because teens’ brains are still so plastic, underaged drinking has a higher potential to interfere with memory, learning, judgment and behavior, which could cause severe problems later in life. Teenage alcoholism leads to academic and social struggles, as well as higher rates of mental health issues such as depression.
What Role Can You Play in Preventing Underaged Drinking?
As a young man grows up, his interests may shift, and he might start to keep parts of his life private. While these are typical signs of adolescence, they could also be red flags of worsening teenage alcoholism. Encourage your teen son to tell you if a peer encourages them to drink, and always listen without judging or interrupting.
Ask your family physician if you’re worried about teenage alcoholism or a co-occurring mental health issue such as depression. It can also ease your mind to start researching adolescent treatment programs designed specifically for young adult men. Contact us at ARCH Academy to learn more about our programming or request a confidential assessment.