Alcoholism In Teens: A dressing Underage Alcoholism

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : December 21, 
| 4 Sources

Teenage Alcoholism Treatment

Teen alcohol dependents are not adults, they need focused teenage alcoholism treatment

Alcoholism in teens is a severe public health problem in the US. Alcohol is the most prevalently used substance among the youth, and underage drinking poses serious safety and health risks.

The repercussions of underage drinking could impact everyone—regardless of drinking status or age.

Regardless of whether directly or indirectly, we all experience the effects of the aggressive behavior, injuries, violence, property damage, and fatalities that could result from underage drinking. It is not jut a problem for some families—it’s already a nationwide concern.

The causes and effects of alcoholism in teens are very different to those seen in adult alcohol dependents.

Too often, for whatever reason, both adults and teens are treated as if they are one and the same. As a result the outlook for teen alcoholics is pretty bleak. Statistics show that teen alcohol dependents are more likely to go back to alcoholic drinking after 'generic' alcoholism treatment than their adult counterparts.

There are, however, treatment centers out there that treat only alcoholism in teens. There are also adult rehabs that have separate facilities for teens.

It is essential that when looking for a rehab facility for an adolescent that you ascertain whether they cater specifically to teens.

This page looks at the the different needs of adolescents suffering from alcoholism and how treatment should differ accordingly.

Teenage Alcoholism Treatment vs. Adult Alcoholism Treatment

Teenage alcoholism treatment and adult alcoholism treatment programs follow similar structures. Both forms of treatment protocol focus on the psychosocial as well as the physiological aspect of the problem.

However, as outlined above, due to the disparate nature of the problem, these alcohol treatment programs need to follow completely different protocols (treatment types).

Alcoholism In Teens

Choosing an alcoholism treatment center for an adolescent? Use the Alcohol Treatment Facility Checklist to discover if it measures up.

Alcoholism In Teens

Teenage alcoholism treatment and adult alcoholism treatment adopt the same program outline. The difference lies in the focus or treatment objectives.

In an adult alcohol treatment program, the objectives focus on the need to keep the patient sober and enable recovering patients to maintain sobriety after their treatment while going through their normal daily routine.

Teen alcohol treatment programs come in two major forms.

  1. The first allows juvenile alcoholics to continue with their studies while receiving treatment for their alcohol problem. The main concern of this program is to prevent major disruptions in the normal routine of teenage alcoholics while undertaking the necessary intervention and support for them to overcome their addiction.
  2. The second prioritizes the recovery from alcohol addiction and development of sobriety skills. Under this setup, patients will have to leave school and be committed to a treatment facility.

    While this type of teenage alcoholism treatment program more or less follows the same treatment protocol used in adult rehab centers, therapists and counselors in adolescent alcohol rehab are required to observe higher level of sensitivity to account for the innate immaturity, lack of experience and responsibility of their young patients.

    Alcohol rehab facilities that specialize in treating alcoholism in teens also need to take into account the potential negative effects of alcohol in the growth and development of their patients.

Teenage Alcoholism Treatment: What To Expect

Teenage or young adult alcohol treatment is a highly specialized treatment protocol that is focused on the innate nature and unique needs of adolescents who are addicted to alcohol.

In contrast to the treatment program for adult alcoholics, teenagers are still going through the initial stages of alcohol abuse and rarely are there cases of full-blown alcoholism.

To understand the difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism, read drinking problems.

However, we have to remember that teenagers and young adults are highly susceptible to alcohol dependency and abuse, and the ramifications can be more pronounced.

The primary treatment objective is to help teenagers revert back to their healthy and normal mental and emotional state as soon as possible since they are more likely to suffer from irreversible developmental disorders and problems as a result of alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

Teenage alcoholism treatment is more of mental and emotional than a physiological challenge. You have to focus on the developmental issues such as:

  • immaturity
  • low self-esteem
  • lack of self-confidence
  • emotional vulnerability
  • poor sense of accountability and responsibility
  • fixation for instant gratification
  • impatience
  • recklessness

These developmental challenges increase the probability of teenage alcohol abuse and alcoholism. If they are not addressed during treatment then a relapse back into drinking is the likely outcome.

Thus, for a teenage alcoholism program to be effective, it must focus and resolve these major developmental challenges being faced by teenagers as well as young adults. In fact, these actions points are key to the effective treatment of alcoholism in teens.

Making a Difference in Their Lives

Teenagers are naturally curious. They want to discover things, explore, and do things their own way. Nonetheless, the pressure to fit in and to belong may make it difficult to resist alcohol if it appears like everybody else is doing it. Thus, the best way to influence your teens to avoid drinking is to foster a trusting and strong relationship with them.

Studies have shown that teens are less likely to start drinking if they feel close and have a wonderful relationship with their parents. With a strong parental bonding, they’re less likely to give in to peer pressure to drink, and will make every effort to meet their parents' expectations not to try to drink.

Here are a few suggestions on building a strong relationship with your children:

  • Motivate your teen to open up and talk with you. Foster great communication.
  • Show and make them feel that you care. It's vital that teens know their parents still care for them. 
  • Set firm but realistic rules for acceptable behavior and follow through with them. They also need to know that there are consequences for their every action.
  • Support your teen's accomplishments and efforts, and still guide them through their shortcomings. 
  • Prepare for their questions. They might ask if you drank alcohol when you were their age. If you did, be honest and admit a painful moment connected to your drinking.
  • Do not forget that your teen is growing up. While you need to be involved in their life, respect their growing individuality and need for privacy.

Get Your Teen The Help He or She Needs

Teen alcoholism could be damaging as teenagers are still developing their identity and personality. Nonetheless, parents could contact a dedicated treatment provider to know more about the options available for their child.

If you found this page helpful, then the following may be of interest to you:

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More


National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Underage Drinking. October 2020.

Stanford Children’s Health. Alcohol Use Among Teens Is Epidemic.

Medline Plus. Risks of underage drinking. April 9, 2020.

Mayo Clinic. Underage drinking: Talking to your teen about alcohol. October 5, 2019.

Return From Treating Alcoholism In Teens To Teen Alcohol Abuse

Return From Treating Alcoholism In Teens To Alcoholism Help Homepage

Alcoholism Help Homepage | What is Alcoholism | Signs of Alcoholism | Alcoholism Tests | Alcohol Abuse Effects | Living with an Addict | Alcoholism Recovery | The AA Way| Alcoholism Cure| Alcoholism Medication | My Story | Alcoholism Guide Blog | Contact Us | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.