Many parents will find themselves asking this question at some point in their life: Is your Teen Abusing Alcohol? But before accusing anyone of teenage alcohol abuse, it's important to have a conversation with your children about the dangers associated with drinking and drug use. While not encouraged, it isn't beyond the range of normal behavior for kids to experiment with drinking and drug use as a teens. What we're hoping to do, is instill our kids with enough knowledge and common sense to leave it at just experimentation.
However, if you are worried about your children, and if you have seen signs of alcohol abuse in teens, there are some simple ways to confirm whether or not your kids are contributing to teenage alcohol abuse.
Look your kids in the eyes when they get home. Look closely, and be sure to pay attention to their eyes and cheeks. Their pupils may be constricted, and their eyes may be red and drooping if they've been using recreational drugs like Marijuana. If they've been drinking, there pupils will be dilated, and they may have trouble keeping focus on you or any one particular thing around them. They're cheeks may also be flushed with red, as these can be signs of alcohol abuse in teens as well.
As weird as smelling your children may sound, it is one of the most effective ways to find out if your children have been drinking or using drugs. Be sure to have regular, in person conversations with your sons and daughters, especially when they come home after hanging out with friends. If there has been any sort of drug or alcohol abuse, the smell will cling to their breath, clothing, and hair. Don't worry about whether or not you will be able to discern the smell from the regular smell of the outside, it's very noticeable.
While teenagers are already prone to mood changes and dramatic emotions, drug and alcohol abuse tend to take these changes to an even larger extreme. If you get the chance to see your teenage son or daughter with their friends, watch their behavior. Are they laughing irregularly at almost nothing? Are they clumsy, tripping or furniture with the motor skills of someone who is highly impaired? Are they almost catatonic, or slack-jawed with droopy eyes for hours on end? These are just some of the signs of alcohol and drug abuse in teens.
With regular drug or alcohol abuse comes the secretive and deceptive behavior necessary to hide the act. While teens are generally going to crave some sort of privacy at their age, there is an unhealthy and noticeable difference between this new found desire for independence and the lying associated with abuse. If their weekend plans are suddenly sounding more and more convoluted and fishy, or if they are just blatantly not telling you where they will be going or what they will be doing then they may be lying about their intentions all together. If you've ever confronted your son or daughter over something like this, and they responded with anger and frustration, then it may be time to talk to them more about the dangers of using and abusing drugs and alcohol.
While everything we listed is a potential sign for drug and alcohol abuse, a lot of these signs are also just behaviors that come along with becoming a teenager. When extreme and pronounced they almost certainly point to drug and alcohol use, but when moderate and infrequent, it's quite honestly normal behavior for a teenager. Teenage years are tough, your body goes through massive amounts of change, both physical, hormonal, and emotionally. If you want to help prevent drug and alcohol abuse, it's best to stop it early by having honestly conversations with your kids about why it's dangerous, and why it should be avoided. In most cases, a little love and attention can go a long way.
However, this isn't always the case. As much as us parents want to believe that we are the sole influence in our children's lives, there are thousands, if not millions, of other sources of information and influence. If you believe your child is struggling with teenage alcohol abuse, talk to them, and if necessary set up a consultation with a treatment center or drug and alcohol abuse counselor, as this time in their life is crucial to a healthy development.