Parents beware. When your troubled youth is having a problem with teenage binge drinking or teenage drug abuse and you confront them, your teen will more often than not deny their use. Parents often do not know what to do, so many parents ignore the problem until the drug or alcohol use starts to affect the family life on a daily basis.
Here is a case of teenage alcoholism and teenage drug abuse from my psychiatric practice:
EH is 18 years old and is a senior in high school. She started drinking in 10th grade. She participates in teenage binge drinking on weekends. She smokes marijuana almost daily and has done ecstasy about 50 times. She got pregnant and had an abortion when she was 17 years old. This year, she got herpes after a one-night stand when she was drunk and high. She went to rehab and is now clean and sober and making better choices for herself.
Teenage alcoholism and teenage drug abuse is devastating to a family. Parental denial can be very strong.
Here are 10 reasons why parental denial about teenage alcohol abuse and teenage drug abuse is dangerous:
- Your troubled youth could get in a car wreck and kill someone or kill themselves when drinking and driving.
- A teenage girl who is drunk or high has a much higher chance of getting pregnant or acquiring a sexually transmitted disease.
- A teenage girl abusing drugs or alcohol is at greater risk of being sexually assaulted or being the victim of a violent crime.
- The longer the teenage alcohol abuse and teenage drug abuse goes on, the greater the likelihood of the teen's brain will become dependent on the substance they are abusing and it is much harder to "get clean".
- The younger a troubled youth is when he starts with underage drinking, the more likely he is that he will have a serious alcohol problem later in their life.
- Teenage alcoholism and teenage drug abuse impacts your teen's self-esteem as the person's school performance suffers, job performance suffers, and relationships suffer (constant tension at home, close friendships are dropped etc.)
- Underage drinking and driving risks not only for accidents, but getting a DUI and going to jail. The legal fees and implications for their future are significant.
- The longer parents ignore the problem, the more severe the problem. Seeing a medical professional for an evaluation is important. The doctor can give advice if detox or rehab is necessary.
- Don't rationalize that your teen is just experimenting with drugs or alcohol when you are aware that the use is frequent and has gone on for more than several months. It is normal for teens to experiment with using alcohol and illicit drugs. However, frequent use that starts to affect daily functioning is addiction.
- Your teen may overdose accidentally by mixing substances that are dangerous in combination or the overdose may be an intentional suicide attempt. A person is more likely to act on a suicide impulse when using drugs or alcohol.
Teenage alcoholism and teenage drug abuse have serious consequences, not just for the troubled youth, but for the family as well; marriages are adversely affected and non-addicted siblings have their needs ignored. Parents: pay attention at home, keep communication open with your children and be open to getting help for both you and your teen.