Alcohol abuse, addiction, and other types of drinking problems commonly occur in the U.S. A drinking problem can be evident through regular binge drinking (5 or more drinks within 2 hours or enough to raise a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08%). This excessive intake can lead to addiction (also called dependency or alcoholism) in the long run.
Both adults and minors can develop drinking problems. Teens may have been exposed to alcohol as early as age 11 for boys or 13 for girls, and millions of minors ages 12 to 20 have reported drinking at least once in their lives. What’s more surprising to realize is that most underage individuals who consume alcohol (90% of them to be exact, according to the CDC) do so in the form of binge drinks.
There are several harmful effects of underage alcohol exposure, abuse, and addiction in teens. These youths may find it difficult to thrive in school, encounter toxic relationships with peers or family members, and suffer other consequences in their daily lives. There’s also an increased risk of getting injured in accidents.
Common Factors Why Alcohol Addiction Develops
Before, boys were more likely to experiment with alcohol and to develop drinking problems sooner, but based on recent surveys, gender is no longer a strong factor on whether or not a teenager develops alcohol addiction. Many of those who get admitted in rehabs have identified the common factors for abuse or dependency: family histories of alcoholism, mental health issues like depression, and easy availability of alcohol at home or through friends.
Implications on Treatment and Recovery
Since family and peer influence tends to be quite strong in cases of teenage alcohol addiction, treatment and recovery should also address the dysfunctional ties that fuel the dependence. For instance, the root of the problem might be the teenager’s peer group; the teen would need to realize how socializing with the current set of friends is harming his/her long-term health and prospects.
Of course, as any reputable rehab will tell you, willpower and commitment won’t be enough to get rid of an alcohol problem. A treatment facility like Sober Life USA in Orange County can aid a teenager’s rehabilitation through various methods, including medications such as Naltrexone (which stops physical cravings for alcohol within hours), to start recovery immediately.
Underage Drinking, National Institutes of Health
Teenage Drinking, HelpGuide.org