Is My Teenager Drinking?

Many parents find themselves wondering the hard-to-ignore question, is my teenager drinking? This is a question no one wants to ask, but certain teen behaviors might lead you to question his or her habits and activities outside the home or during their alone time.

There are several ways to find the answer to the question, is my teenager drinking, because there are some very apparent signs of a regular drinking habit that one can monitor to find out the truth. Underage drinking is still a major problem in the United States leading to millions of teens developing adult drinking problems, getting in alcohol-related accidents and injuries as well as injuring others. In fact, more than 10 million teens from ages 12 to 20 have admitted to drinking alcohol underage. This is a dangerous habit to start at such a young age for many reasons. The first of these reasons is that children and teens who drink alcohol are more likely to become addicted or have problems with alcoholism in their adult years. Those diseases and struggles come along with a whole new slew of issues. Teens are also among the most unskilled drivers in the United States simply because of lack of experience on the road. However, add alcohol to the mix and teens are even more likely to get into an accident, which could provide injury or death for themselves or another person. 

As a parent, it is important to know what to look for when checking the signs to determine the answer to the question, has my teenager been drinking. 

Signs Your Teenager Has Been Drinking:

One of the first things you can do as a parent is to monitor your child's behavior. Be sure you know where they are, with who, and what time they will be coming  home. From this point, it is important to do a visual inspection. Talk to your teen to determine if they smell like alcohol or not. If their breath reeks of alcohol, this is a pretty glaring indicator that your teen has been drinking alcohol. However, sometimes teens will quickly eat a bunch of breath mints or chewing gum to get rid of the smell. If your teen has been downing the mints, this also might be a sign that your teenager is drinking. There are other visual signs to watch our for to determine if your teen has been drinking or not. They may exhibit glassy or bloodshot eyes, flushed cheeks or drooping eyelids. From talking to your teen, you should be able to determine if their speech is impaired, slurred or if they have any impaired body coordination. If they struggle to walk or form a coherent sentence, this is a pretty strong indicator once again that your teen has been drinking. It is also up to the parent to take notice if their teen is acting "different' or not. Be aware of how they usually act. If they come home acting defiant, defensive about their whereabouts and refuse to answer questions, this could also be a sign that your teenager is drinking.

Teen Drinking Prevention:

In the event that you discover your teen has been drinking, it is first a good idea to let him or her sober up before you try yelling at them or trying to punish them for their behavior. At this point, if the teen is still inebriated, they are unlikely to respond positively to your lecture and will not listen to anything you have to say. Once your teen has sobered, it is a good time to make sure you explain your thoughts, feelings and the facts about drinking. Many teens drink without care or concern because they simply do not fully understand the consequences of their actions. Explain to your teen about the dangers of alcohol poisoning, alcohol addiction and what can happen while driving under the influence. 

Even if your teen does not appear to have been drinking, it is still important for them to understand the seriousness of underage drinking before they get to the point where they do begin drinking. Peer pressure is still a strong force among many teens and can often be more of the dictator when it comes to teens' decision making abilities. This is why parents need to talk to their teens before it is too late. Educate them about how to go to a party safely. Be sure they understand that drinking is prohibited and they need to make sure and watch their drink at a party because they can easily become spiked with alcohol or a more even dangerous substance like the date-rape drug. Make sure your teen knows to never get into a car being driven by someone who has been drinking. Let them know that you will pick them up or tell them to call a cab. 

However, some parents find themselves in the unfortunate situation where their teen has developed a drinking problem. From this point, it is vital to get them professional help as soon as possible. There are residential treatment centers or rehab facilities that are designed to help teens in these situations. There is also therapeutic options to help your teen learn to quit drinking. 


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