Signs of Teen Alcohol Abuse


On the weekends, there is often plenty of underage drinking that goes on around the country. And to make matters worse, the FDA recently approved Palcohol – a powered version of alcohol that can make the ingestion of alcohol easier to hide. The point is that teens are encouraged to drink at parties, clubs, and bars. They may be pressured by their friends or they may enjoy their first experience of alcohol enough to continue drinking.


According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 9 million children and teens (between the ages of 12 and 20) reported that they drank alcohol in the previous month. This group accounts for about 25% of the all those under the age of 20 in the United States. Typically, teens and young adults do not drink as often as adults, but they do drink more heavily in one sitting. For instance, teens and young adults tend to binge drink, having as many as five or more drinks on one occasion.


As parents and caregivers, it’s important to look for signs that can indicate abuse of alcohol. Below is a list of physical, emotional and social signs of teen alcohol abuse to look for:


Physical Signs of Alcohol Abuse

  • Red/blood shot eyes
  • Persistent cough
  • Increased fatigue and/or sleep problems
  • Changes in weight (increase or decrease)
  • Unexplained injuries (could be caused by accidents that occur while drinking)
  • Frequent headaches, nausea, sensitivity to sound, especially in the morning due to hangover
  • Other drug use, including cigarette smoking
  • Slurred speech or an inability to communicate effectively
  • Lack of concentration
  • Blackouts or an inability to account for specific periods of time


Emotional Warning Signs of Alcohol Abuse

  • Withdrawal from family – spending more time alone away from family members and less communication.
  • Loss of interest in previous hobbies/activities
  • Depression
  • Mood Swings – including irritability, quick to anger and overly defensive
  • Change in the choice of friends/peer group – not introducing new friends to you


Social Warning Signs of Alcohol Abuse

  • Problems at school, such as falling grades, complaints from teachers/staff, reports of cutting class and absences.
  • Problems with the law.
  • Goes out with friends a lot or attends many parties.
  • Secretive behavior, such as hiding things from you, locking bedroom door, not telling you who their friends are or where they are going.
  • Lying
  • Running away


Despite society’s acceptance of alcohol, it remains to be incredibly dangerous. Even though it’s not the most addictive drug there is – cocaine and heroin significantly surpass alcohol in its addictive quality – alcohol continues to be the cause of millions of deaths around the world. Whether it’s due to drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, or crime, alcohol is bad news.


If you suspect that your teen is drinking and abusing alcohol, call for help today. By calling a mental health professional, you not only get support for your teen, but you are indirectly also helping yourself. Call for help today.