Risks of Teens and Drinking
Risks and Dangers of Teens Drinking
Underage drinking is very serious, and definitely not something that should be taken lightly. The risks and dangers of teen drinking can be extremely life threatening or changing to young adults. What are the risks of teens and drinking? Youth who drink are more likely to experience the following, according to the CDC:
- Struggles in school, i.e. lower grades and higher absences
- Social issues such as fighting or not participating in social events or activities
- Memory issues
- Physical or sexual violence
- Disruption of growth or sexual development
- Misuse of other substances
- Changes in brain development that have life-lasting effects
Why Does My Teen Drink?
The big question many parents struggle with is WHY does my teen drink? If you find yourself struggling because you found out your teen has been drinking underage or struggling with underage drinking, know that you are not alone. One of the most popular reasons that teens drink is because they want to take a risk. For many, drinking offers a feeling of thrill, something most teens seek often and without thinking of the consequences. It may be a part of developmental changes to blame for these actions in teens, offering a more physiological explanation. These developmental changes may lead teens to act more impulsively, often without realizing that actions as serious as drinking will have large consequences.
Societal “norms” along with peer pressure are other great reasons why teens may try drinking or other substances. With the pressures of society and media today, it can look to teens like they are missing out if they are not drinking, or that they are “supposed to be” at their age. They may even see their parents consuming alcohol and feel as though they are mature enough to take part in these activities. In many teens’ minds, especially those who are already drinking, substance use is a part of a normal teenage experience.
How to Approach a Conversation About Alcohol with Your Teen
Approaching your teen about their alcohol consumption can be very difficult and sometimes awkward. The most important thing to do with your teen is to develop open, trusting communication to ensure your teen is willing to have difficult conversations with you and feels safe.
Here are three tips for talking with your teens about drinking:
- Ask open-ended questions- this will encourage your teen to tell you what they are feeling or thinking in the moment, and avoids simple “yes” and “no”’s
- Control your emotions- Acknowledge your feelings in a constructive way, even if this means taking a few deep breaths and stepping back to avoid responding with anger
- Make every conversation a “win-win”- Try not to let this conversation be just a lecture, give respect to your child’s viewpoint and you will be more likely to receive it in return
How to Help Your Teen if They’re Already Drinking
While dealing with a teen who is drinking is no easy feat, it is almost inevitable. There are many different ways to approach helping your child and it may be different for everyone. Working out or setting an agreement with your teen can be a great way to find compromise where you are not forbidding them, but you can ensure their safety. For example, agreeing to pick up your teen from a situation in which they were drinking if they ever need a ride, any day or anytime, and in return they agree to not get behind the wheel intoxicated or in the car with someone intoxicated driving. If your teen is already drinking, it is simply unrealistic to expect them to stop, and making safe compromises such as these is a great approach to helping them. If you find that your teen is struggling, however, and may even be battling an addiction to alcohol, do not be afraid to reach out for help.
If you suspect your teen has been drinking,you can contact Ingrid Higgins and Campbell Teen and Family Therapy for help. Therapy can help your teen make informative decisions about alcohol use. Parenting a teen can be difficult and knowing what is “normal” is hard. This is the time they need support and advice more than ever, but is also the time in their lives where they may be the least likely to talk to a parent. No fault or blame on the parents, teens want to be autonomous and they are trying to develop their own sense of identity, trying to solve problems on their own, or have shame around their problem. That’s where we come in. Click here to schedule an appointment with one of our therapists.