Why is My Teen Drinking Underage?

Alcohol Consumption in Adolescence is Dangerous

The rates of alcohol consumption in underage youth is a growing issue. Discovering that your teen has been drinking alcohol presents a feeling of utter distress. Parents are often at a loss in what to do when they have found out that their child has been drinking alcohol. Instead of yelling, screaming, and restricting them to the confines of the house for the next year, try speaking one-on-one with your teenager.

There may be an underlying mental health issue that is at the foundation of why your teen is drinking before they are legally allowed to. Since teens are in a part of their lives where they are in a period of constant transition, they may feel an overwhelming pressure to use alcohol as a coping method. Speaking to your teen in a sound manner can help better detect why they are drinking.

Factors of Underage Drinking

There are various reasons as to why your teen may be drinking.

  • They Think its Mature: It’s not uncommon for a teen to want to ‘grow up already’, as they believe adulthood holds the freedom which allows them to make their own decisions. Teens may start drinking because they associate it with being an adult. This is especially true with teens who hang out with an older crowd.
  • Peer Pressure: Being a teen is not easy and there is pressure everywhere you look. The pressure to fit in is something that many teens struggle with. At parties and get-togethers, teens may feel as though they have to drink in order to fit in with the crowd.
  • Curiosity: Many teens are simply curious about this ‘buzz’ that adults feel when they drink. They may indulge in drinking out of sheer curiosity.
  • Self-Medication: Teens who have an underlying mental illness, whether it is currently present or not, may turn to alcohol in order to ease their symptoms. Perhaps they suffer from depression, anxiety, OCD, or ADHD, among other mental illnesses. Drinking can worsen the side effects of mental illness and should never be a remedy or treatment method.

If you feel as though your teenager is struggling with an underage drinking problem, it’s important that you address the issue right away. Alcohol use can quickly turn into abuse, especially in teens whose brains are still developing.

Professional Assistance

Seeking the help of a counselor or therapist can help your teen speak openly about what they are struggling with internally. Sometimes it is easier for your teen to speak to a counselor than it is to speak to their parents.

Counselors can conduct various assessments in order to determine if there are any sort of underlying medical conditions or mental illnesses that may be the reasoning for their alcohol use.

There are countless risks associated with underage drinking and since adolescents are still developing, alcohol consumption can disrupt their psychological development. Over the course of time, alcohol can actually damage brain cells, leaving them unable to regenerate normally. In turn, this can lead to various problems such as memory loss and behavioral issues. There are also many long-term effects of alcohol consumption and can put individuals at a higher risk of developing depression or anxiety problems.

If you have a teen who is drinking alcohol underage, you must get immediate help. It’s never too early to speak to your kids about drugs and alcohol and the sooner that you have this discussion, the more prepared they will be when they are confronted with the pressure to engage in drug or alcohol use.

Sources:

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000528.htm

http://www.camy.org/resources/fact-sheets/consequences-of-underage-drinking-surgeon-general/index.html

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.