Alcohol is the most major substance use problem faced by teens. Parents, rightfully concerned about their teen’s health, need to be on the lookout for signs that their teens are drinking. Here are 15 signs that may suggest your teenager is drinking alcohol:
1. Their Schoolwork And Extracurricular Activities Slip
Few things signal teen drinking like a drop in grades. If your teen starts neglecting extracurricular activities and other pastimes they used to enjoy, alcohol may have become their new pastime.
2. They Exhibit The Physical Signs Of Intoxication
Nothing indicates drinking like noticing your teen is drunk. Watch carefully for telltale signs, including:
- slurred speech
- poor coordination
- flushed skin
- poor vision
3. They Exhibit Changes In Sleeping Patterns
Alcohol causes drowsiness, disquiet sleeping, and increased urination. If your teen dozes off, has trouble sleeping or waking up in the morning, and indulges in late-night bathroom trips, it may be a sign of drinking.
4. They Have A Whole New Cast Of Friends
Friendships come and go throughout the teen years, but if the friends you loved like your own disappear in favor of a disreputable crew, your teen could have alienated their old friends with risky behavior.
5. They Go to Friends’ Houses Carrying A Large Duffel Bag, Tote, Or Backpack
Keep track of the supplies your teens usually bring to their friends’ houses. A big, mysterious bag could conceal “party favors” in the form of liquor bottles.
6. They Speak On The Phone In Hushed Tones
It may seem normal for teens to talk about their “private business” discreetly on the phone, but do your best to listen in—they could be talking about something they don’t want you to hear.
7. They Avoid Questions About Their Activities
Teens push boundaries to establish their independence, but avoiding answers sometimes mean they are scrambling to come up with a credible excuse to cover up illicit behavior.
8. They Ask To Spend The Night
If a visit to a friend’s house spontaneously turns into a sleepover, your teen may be in a condition they don’t want you to see them in.
9. Their Behavior Changes
If a one-time “good kid” starts acting out in school, seeking attention, shedding inhibitions, showing up late, or rebelling against family policies, be on the lookout for other signs of drinking.
10. They Exhibit Mood Swings
Many teens experience mood swings. Nevertheless, take note of excessive flare-ups of irritation, defensiveness, and apathy. A “nothing matters” attitude is a classic red flag.
11. They Have Trouble Concentrating And Remembering Things
Memory and cognition usually improve with age. If you see a dropoff in your teen’s ability to focus or remember facts, alcohol consumption may be the culprit.
12. They Ask For Money But Won’t Explain
Avoiding explanations is a red flag that the money is being used for something unacceptable according to your family rules.
13. They Come Home Late With No Satisfactory Explanation
Your teen may know what time he or she is expected home. If they make a big deal about a late return out of nowhere, they might be trying to end the conversation quickly so they don’t have to lie.
14. They Display Symptoms Of Depression
Alcohol consumption and depression often overlap. Alcohol is categorized as a “neuro depressant,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean it “makes people depressed.” However, it can magnify any underlying psychological issues that your teen might have been coping with.
15. They Stop Bringing Their Friends Over
If your home is no longer the hangout spot, it could be a sign that hangouts now consist of behavior you wouldn’t approve of.
Underage Drinking Statistics
Take a look at some statistics regarding teens and alcohol use:
- An estimated 5,000 teens die due to alcohol consumption according to the Surgeon General, 4,300 according to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
- Teens who binge drink produce far lower levels of the amino acid that aids in the development of the cerebral frontal lobe during adolescence, producing lifelong effects on memory, cognition, and concentration.
- Alcohol consumption is a key risk factor for fatal car accidents, homicides, sexual assault, and suicides among teenagers.
- 15 percent of all alcoholics started drinking before they turned 21.