Teen Alcohol Abuse

Teen alcohol abuse is a very prevalent problem in North America. It is the most frequently used drug by teenagers in the United States.

Alcoholism or alcohol dependence as defined by the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" is a negative pattern of alcohol use leading to a number of problems such as:

  • needing more alcohol to get intoxicated (tolerance),
  • difficulties that occur when the effects of alcohol wear off (withdrawal),
  • using more alcohol for a longer time than intended,
  • and other life problems because of the use of alcohol.

Here are some alarming statistics of teenage alcohol abuse:

  • About one half of junior high and senior high school students drink alcohol on a monthly basis, and in the United States, more than 13,000 children and teens take their first drink every day
  • 14% of teens have been intoxicated at least once in the past year.
  • Nearly 8% of teens who drink say that they drink at least five or more alcoholic drinks in a row (binge drink).
  • American teens who are drinking before the of age 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholics than young people who do not drink before the age of 21.
  • Every year, 1,400 American college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related injuries, including motor vehicle accidents.

Signs Of Teen Alcohol Abuse

Here are some common signs of alcohol abuse in teens involving a change in their behaviour:

  1. lying,
  2. making excuses,
  3. breaking curfew,
  4. staying in their room,
  5. becoming verbally or physically argumentative and abusive toward others, or becoming unusually passive
  6. deterioration in teenager's appearance or hygiene.
  7. having items in their possession that are connected to alcohol use (paraphernalia),
  8. the smell of alcohol on their breath or body,
  9. mood swings,
  10. stealing, and
  11. changes in friends
  12. flushed skin
  13. memory loss


It is important to know the dangerous alcohol abuse effects from teenage alcohol abuse. Just a few of the many mind altering effects of alcohol use include the following:

  • Alcohol decreases teens' attention span.
  • Teens who have experienced alcohol withdrawal tend to have difficulties with memory.
  • Teens tend to abuse alcohol with other substances, usually marijuana.
  • Male teens who drink heavily tend to complete fewer years of education compared to male teens who do not.
  • The younger a person is who starts drinking, the more likely they will develop a problem with alcohol.
  • Each year, almost 2,000 people under the age of 21 years die in car crashes in which underage drinking is involved. (There has been an increase in car crashes in Montreal in 2011 involving teenagers) Alcohol is involved in nearly half of all violent deaths involving teens.
  • More than three times the number of eighth-grade girls who drink heavily said they have attempted suicide compared to girls in that grade who do not drink.
  • Teens who drink are more likely to engage in sexual activity, have unprotected sex, have sex with a stranger, or be the victim or perpetrator of a sexual assault.
  • Excess alcohol use can cause or mask teens emotional problems, such as feelings of rejection, insecurity, not being accepted by their peers, weight problems (see easy weight loss for teens,) anxiety over exams, or depression.
  • Drinking in excess can lead to the use of other drugs, like marijuana, cocaine, or heroin. Those needing help with teen alcohol abuse or know a teen who needs help with their drinking problem, help is available at the following organizations:

Alcohol Abuse and Dependence Help Organizations

  National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) 22 Cortlandt Street Suite 801 New York, NY 10007-3128 Phone: 1-800-NCA-CALL (1-800-622-2255) (212) 269-7797 Fax: (212) 269-7510

E-mail: national@ncadd.org

Web Address: http://www.ncadd.org

NCADD provides facts and scientific information about alcohol and drugs and related health issues, with specific resources for parents and youth. The organization also has a national intervention network and provides information about treatment programs and prevention.

  Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters 1600 Corporate Landing Parkway Virginia Beach, VA 23454-5617 Phone: 1-888-4AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666) for meeting information (757) 563-1600

Fax: (757) 563-1655

E-mail: wso@al-anon.org

Web Address: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/

Al-Anon is a support group and self-help program for family members and friends of people and teen alcohol abuse and drug use problems. The program is based on the same principles as AA. Phone numbers for local offices are listed in area telephone books.

   Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) World Services, Inc. P.O. Box 459 New York, NY 10163 Phone: (212) 870-3400

Web Address: http://www.aa.org/

AA is a support group and self-help program for recovery from alcohol use problems as well as other substance abuse problems. Meetings are available in most communities at various times. Meetings can be "open" (for the person and his or her family) or "closed" (for the person only).

Special groups for women, teen alcohol abuse, and gay/lesbian people may be available in some areas. AA provides written information on the program of recovery. Phone numbers for local offices are listed in local area phone books.

  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) 1 Choke Cherry Road Rockville, MD 20857 Phone: (240) 276-2420: Substance abuse prevention (240) 276-1660: Substance abuse treatment 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357): Toll-free referral helpline Web Address: www.samhsa.gov SAMHSA provides information on substance abuse prevention and treatment. Its Web site is the gateway to the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (http://prevention.samhsa.gov) and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (http://csat.samhsa.gov).

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