The Health Hazards of Teen Alcohol Abuse

When the weekend rolls around, it’s time to go out with friends. No matter what teens do together, there’s a very high probability that alcohol will be involved. There is often an excessive amount of drinking that happens among adolescents, which can bring on severe health concerns, including teen alcohol abuse.


In a recent study done by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), researchers found that one in five high school females engage in binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined as drinking four or more drinks during one event for females, and for male teens, binge drinking is consuming five or more drinks. Sadly, the rates of teens who are binge drinking remain alarmingly high.


The following breakdown resulted from the study:

  • 45% of 9th graders admitted to binge drinking
  • 50% of 10th graders admitted to binge drinking
  • 58% of 11th graders admitted to binge drinking
  • 62% of 12th graders admitted to binge drinking


It probably goes without saying that drinking heavily is going to have some medical consequences. The body will begin to deteriorate in a variety of ways. For instance, long-term alcohol consumption can affect nearly every organ in the body. Heavy drinking can affect coordination, thiamine deficiency, and other forms of poor nutrition. Alcoholism can lead to illnesses having to do with the heart, such as hypertension and an irregular heartbeat. It can also cause impotence, irregular menstrual cycles, pancreatitis, stroke, confusion, and amnesia. Other illness associated with chronic heavy drinking include:

  • Cancer
  • Cirrhosis
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Gout
  • High blood Pressure
  • Nerve Damage
  • Alcohol Poisoning
  • Addiction
  • Heart Disease


Furthermore, alcohol abuse impedes nutrient breakdown and impairs a teen’s ability to assimilate those nutrients. Also, when an adolescent engages in alcohol abuse and he or she is at the height of their addiction, 50 percent of their calorie intake is derived from the drinking. The damage to the body, not only because of the addiction but also because of poor eating habits that result from drinking has led many teen rehabilitative treatment centers to include nutritional counseling in their treatment plan.


The long-term effects of alcoholism can include the psychological effects of an addiction as well. Heavy alcohol consumption not only affects the health of the body; it also affects the stability of the mind. Approximately, 10%-15% of those with alcoholism will attempt to take their life. Those adolescents who are successful in their suicide attempt tend to have positive alcohol levels in their blood stream.


Of course, other dangers of heavy drinking include risky behavior, such as sexual activity and the risk of pregnancy. There is also the danger of developing an addiction, a chemical dependency to alcohol. Sadly, many teens don’t see anything wrong with drinking, which increases their probability of teen alcohol abuse and the risks mentioned above.


For this reason, one of the essential tasks for parents is to ask their teens questions about their social activities. Rather than telling their children what to do, ask questions to invite how teens feel about drinking. Ask about how they feel when they’re drinking along with some of the consequences they experience. Parents might simply and safely explore with their teens all the pros (such as having fun) and the cons (waking up with a hangover) to drinking.


In fact, this method is the very process of a therapy called Motivational Interviewing. Motivational Interviewing seeks to evoke a teen’s intrinsic desire to change. It does this by exploring his or her ambivalence to changing behavior, given the pros and cons of using drugs or drinking. Exploring and resolving this ambivalence is the goal of this type of therapy.


Of course, parents might choose to encourage their teens to engage in therapy as a means to support sobriety in their children. If binge drinking in teens becomes too severe, an inpatient treatment facility might be a necessary option to treat teen alcohol abuse.