Alcohol Addiction among Teenagers
“Consumption of alcohol has increased all over the world and age of drinking is gradually declining.”
Alcohol use is a serious risk to the health and well-being of teenage children, as they are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol than adults because their developing bodies and brains. As our society is becoming more affluent and parents becoming more open-minded, chances of addiction among teenagers are more common. I have observed in my clinical practice, many concerned parents seek interventions and treatments for alcohol addiction among teenagers. There are parents who themselves express concerns relating to quantity and age appropriateness of consumption of alcohol to their children.
What is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction or alcoholism is a set of behavior related to alcohol abuse. Addiction is a collective term of alcohol abuse, dependence, withdrawal, and relapse of abuse. Alcohol addiction is a cluster of physiological, behavioral, and cognitive phenomena in which the use of alcohol takes on a much higher priority than other behaviors that once had more value or priority and continues consumption despite negative known consequences. Typically, the person consume alcohol to relax, fun, reward or escape from the stress or situation. Gradually person feels one cannot live without it and quantity increases as well. With addiction, the frontal lobe area of the brain shows poor brain functionality; hence the person has poor attention and concentration, retardation of thinking process, fogging in reasoning and judgment, and has a dimmer outlook or approach to life.
Why Do Teenagers Consume Alcohol?
Teenage drinking generally starts with curiosity, pleasure-seeking, relationship, personal or family problems. They are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol more likely to get addicted to it. In study it is observed that some factors are associated with addiction in adolescents are:
- Peer factor, personality or temperament, beliefs and attitudes—friends using alcohol, poor individual self esteem, depression, anxiety.
- Family factors like broken home i.e. divorced or separated parents, drug use in parents, family conflicts, unrestricted or unsupervised access to money.
- School factors like poor academic performance, failures, low IQ, peer pressure, bullying , anxiety and stress.
- Social norms, legal and judiciary system, availability of alcohol, minimum age for selling alcohol, are few additional factors for teenagers alcoholism.
What are symptoms or Indicators of Teenage Alcoholism?
Alcoholism affects physically and mentally as well as every corner of life like personal, family and social behavior, academic, sports and physical growth. Warning signs of teenage alcoholism may include:
- Emotional or psychological symptoms: Personality change, frequent mood changes, irritability, low self-esteem, poor reasoning and judgment, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, behavioral changes, and poor interest in communication, interaction with friends and family.
- Physical symptoms: easy fatigability, poor weight gain, repeated medical complaints, red and glazed eyes, dehydrated skin, dull look, frequent infections. They also do ‘binge drinking’ and getting drunk, there is an increased risk of blackouts and even alcohol poisoning.
- Behavior with Family: starting arguments, demanding money, staying out home of home, very rigid to go out of home even after restrictions, or withdrawing from the family.
- School behavior: Decreased interest, poor academic performances and drop in grades, absenteeism, truancy, breaking rules and discipline problems.
- Social Problems: less interested in standard home and school activities, reckless driving, breaking rules, frequent fights, arrest, high risk behavior & unprotected Sex and other anti social behaviors are common among them.
How Do We Prevent Alcohol Addiction among teenagers?
There are various strategies but for their successful implementation there has to be a joint effort by teachers, parents and mental health professionals to provide a network. One of the most powerful tools in reducing the prevalence of teen drug use is open-communication. Second is to reduce alcohol availability to minors. Third, connections between child welfare services and addiction treatment programmes can be improved.
- Open Communication: Parents can talk about the impact of alcohol on the body and explain how it feels to be drunk, for example, doing silly things or feeling sick. Listening their problems, observing behaviors, making trust, giving reassurance, being non-judgmental and minimize criticism are few helpful steps.
- Making strict rules: study shows if parents set rules about drinking, young people are less likely to get drunk, so it’s important to work together to make boundaries. Strict compliance to this rule, rewards to the behavior will keep them away from alcohol.
- Know parents of child’s friends: Detailed discussion of the behavior rather than blaming each other among Parents remains helpful. They might share concerns, and all could agree on rules around parties and supervision.
Don’t struggle, UDGAM will help you!
The good news is that there is hope through medical treatment!
Early detection and timely effective treatment of the addiction problem and related issues can prevent it from developing into a serious problem. This also ensures a good prognosis of recovery and relapse can be prevented. Parents must seek professional help for their child for timely intervention.
Addiction is treated by team UDGAM, trained mental healthcare providers including psychiatrists, psychologists, de-addiction counsellor, motivational guru and social workers. We must focus on the basic approach treatment of addiction includes
- Detoxification: management of symptoms appearing due to stoppage of drug of abuse with the help of medicinal drugs
- Maintenance and Rehabilitation: for long term behavior changes
- Helping patients to stay sober by use of medical drugs under supervision of experts
- Psychotherapy/Counseling includes: Cognitive behavior therapy, family therapy, Motivational Enhancement Therapy
- Self help groups like Alcoholic Anonymous, Narcotic Anonymous
- Finally, public education campaigns among teachers, parents and the growing children can help the spread of this problem.