The Detailed Guide to Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : May 3, 
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Parents Guide to Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Prevention
Free 65 page E-book

Teen alcohol and drug abuse is every parents nightmare... you suspect your child is using alcohol and/or drugs. What can you do? Many would say it's just youthful experimentation and that it will run its course and then all will be well.

This may well be the case but it might not. Are you prepared to risk your child's future, maybe even their lives with a non-interventionist style of parenting? You will never regret having interfered in your child's life where alcohol and drugs are concerned and you may even be saving their life.

There are many who say that abusing alcohol is just an adolescent phase that teenagers grow out of and, to a certain extent they are right. However, a minority of teens who abuse alcohol will not just grow out of it, they will go on to develop alcohol dependency.

Underage drinking is considered a serious public health issue in the US. Alcohol is actually the most widely abused substance among the youth in the United States, and drinking by young adult poses huge safety and health risks.

Parents play a significant role in their children’s lives. As their children grow into teens and young adulthood, parents are concerned about new risks they might experience. There is nothing that makes a parent feel more powerless than watch their son or daughter descend into the hell that is alcohol and/or drug addiction. But it doesn't need to happen.

Although teenagers are not the best when it comes to asking for help, there is no doubt that when substance abuse rears its ugly head they most definitely need it.

So it is up to you to be able spot the signs of substance abuse in teenagers and know how to get them to stop, if you can do this then half the battle is won.

Our FREE E-book gives you the tools you may need with your teenager. Having downloaded this book you will.....

  • Discover the five things that you can do to help your teen stay away from alcohol and drugs
  • Learn to spot the signs and symptoms of experimentation with drugs and alcohol, signs that could easily be missed.
  • Learn what it is your surly teenager is really trying to tell you when they refuse to communicate verbally
  • Tells you what you can do when you discover that your child is abusing alcohol and/or drugs
  • Gives you the latest news about drug testing, how you can use them and how teens try and beat them.
  • Learn more about marijuana and discover that it is not the innocuous drug of popular imagination

Although children like to think that they are all grown up and able to look after themselves, they are only really still kids trying to find their way in the world. Although, many would deny it, they need all the help they can get. Keep in mind that with strong parental ties, they’re less likely to give in to peer pressure to drink, and would strive to meet their parents' expectations to avoid alcohol. Teens raised with warmth, encouragement, and proper discipline are tend to respect their parents’ boundaries.

If you can do just one thing for your teenager then this is it, download The Parents Guide to Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Prevention and learn what you can do to prevent addiction developing in your teenager. They'll thank you for it later.

Get the Free E-book and all we ask from you is that you sign up below for our monthly E-zine. Once you have confirmed your subscription then we will send you a link which, when you click on it, will download your free 69 page copy of The Parents Guide to Teen Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Prevention.

How Prevalent Is Teenage Alcohol Abuse?

Teenage alcohol abuse has reached epidemic proportions in the country as it continues to be a burgeoning problem among adolescents. According to a national survey, an astounding 72% of teenagers in the 8th to 12th grades have already experimented with alcohol while 11.4% of the alcoholic drinks sold in the country are consumed by teens. Yet excessive alcohol drinking maintains to be widespread among underage youths, as shown by nationwide surveys and studies in smaller populations.

Alcohol is the most used and abused drug by American teenagers. Although these figures are truly alarming what makes the statistics grimmer is the fact that people who start consuming alcohol before the age of 15 are four times more likely to have alcohol addiction related issues in the future.

Teens who abuse alcohol are highly susceptible to other forms of substance abuse including the use illicit drugs such as cocaine.

Teenagers who are prone to binge drinking are also known to have academic problems, delinquent behavior, suicidal and/or criminal tendencies.

Signs Of Adolescent Alcohol Abuse

It can be very difficult to decide whether the behavior of your teenager is merely a sign of adolescence or a symptoms that he or she may be drinking.

Read Adolescent Alcohol Abuse: The Signs, to find out how to identify if your teen is drinking.

The Difference Between Teenage Alcohol Abuse and Teenage Alcoholism

Alcohol abuse is the overuse or the misuse of alcohol that can have a negative bearing on the drinker's personal and professional life including his/her relationships and finances.

Alcoholism is taking substance abuse one step further. It is an addiction that is marked by a persistent craving for alcohol, loss of control after drinking, high tolerance to alcohol, physical dependence on alcohol and the exhibition of withdrawal symptoms upon the cessation of alcohol use. While alcoholism is categorized as a treatable disease, alcohol abuse is the precursor to the condition.

Effects Of Teenage Alcohol Abuse 

Although drinking may seem fun to many teenagers, its effects on them and their lives can be devastating. The health problems caused by alcohol abuse are well-documented, but it is the social and psychological consequences that impact on the young first.

The statistics on teenagers and alcohol abuse do not make for pretty reading. Each year almost 1500 people die in motor vehicle accidents involving teenage drunk drivers On top of this, 5000 deaths are reported in people below the age of 21 that are attributed to the health ramifications of binge drinking.

The consequences of teen alcohol abuse stretch far below the social fabric as youngsters who develop a taste for alcohol early on in life face problems such as:

  • Poor or failing grades along with other scholastic problems like higher absenteeism
  • Social issues such as lack of participation and a tendency to get into fights
  • Legal concerns such as DUIs and causing physical hurt to someone while under the influence of alcohol
  • Health concerns such as hangovers, ulcers etc
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Propensity to indulge in unprotected and unplanned sexual activity
  • Experience disruption in normal sexual development and physical growth
  • Tendency for physical and sexual assault
  • Higher risk for committing homicide and suicide
  • Susceptibility to unintentional injuries such as burns, drowning and injuries
  • Changes in brain development that may have long standing psychological and neurological impact
  • Risk of death from alcohol poisoning
  • Memory issues
  • Psychological problems such as depression and mood disorders
  • Four times more likely to commit theft outside their homes
  • Three times more likely to inflict grievous harm on themselves or others
  • Three times more likely to get into fights and destroy property
  • Five times more likely to run away from home

In general, youngsters who binge drink are at a higher risk of experiencing the problems mentioned above than those who drink occasionally and consume alcohol in moderate amounts.

Teenage Binge Drinking

Alcohol dependency is not a common condition among adolescents, what is seen a lot, however, is binge drinking. Many view binge drinking as an inevitable part of growing up, a kind of rite of passage.

This may well be, but binge drinking impacts on adolescents in a myriad of ways and can, if allowed to, lead to alcohol dependence in later life.

Teenage Drinking Facts

Knowing the facts about teenage drinking is essential if you are to prevent your child(ren) picking up that first drink.

Read Teenage Drinking Facts to learn more about teen alcohol abuse and why teens drink.

teen-alcohol-and-drug-abusePhoto by kevin laminto

Teenage Alcoholism Test

The NIAAA has devised a self-diagnostic test that can calculate whether a teenager is 'merely' experimenting with alcohol, has a drinking problem or is suffering from full-blown alcohol dependency.

Complete this test at Teenage Alcoholism Test.

Teens And Drunk Driving

Drunk driving accidents kill countless young people year after year. It is only with education and information that teens will understand the consequences of drinking and driving.

For tips on how to prevent adolescents from drinking and driving, read Teens And Drunk Driving.

Alcohol Abuse In College 

There are ways to prevent your child engaging in alcohol abuse at college. It is just a matter of doing your research and having the right strategies in place.

Read alcohol abuse in college to learn how.

Teen Alcoholism: Causes, Effects And Treatment 

Teenage alcoholism and teenage alcohol abuse are not the same thing. Teenage alcohol abuse, though, can lead to alcoholism (in a minority of cases).

As children grow from teens to young adulthood, they experience dramatic emotional, lifestyle, and physical changes. Developmental changes, like increasing independence and puberty, have been related to alcohol use. Thus, just being an adolescent might be a primary risk factor to drink and also for drinking dangerously.

The main difference between the two is that alcoholism is a physical dependence on alcohol, that is the alcoholic suffers from withdrawal if he or she is denied alcohol.

Teen Alcohol Treatment - Avoiding AA 

Teens are regularly referred to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings by those in authority. This is despite the fact that AA is both ineffective and dangerous for adolescents.

Read Teen Alcohol Treatment - Avoiding AA to discover why AA is bad for teenagers.

Treating Alcoholism In Teens

Treatment centers for adolescents are relatively rare because, fortunately, there are not that many teens who suffer from alcohol dependency.

However, teens are still referred to adult alcohol dependency treatment centers on a regular basis. This is entirely inappropriate.

Teens have very different needs from adults and need a very different treatment regimen from that provided for adults. Read Treating Alcoholism In Teens to discover why teens need tailored alcohol dependency treatment

Preventing Adolescent Alcohol Abuse 

Although some say that it is inevitable that a teenager will at some stage experiment with alcohol, there are steps parents can take to prevent alcohol abuse in teens.

There is a belief among many that it is inevitable that teens will abuse alcohol and that there is little parents, or adults for that matter, can do about it. Although there is an element of truth in this, there are a number of strategies a parent can adopt to reduce the likelihood of their child abusing alcohol.

Nevertheless, comprehensive methods that include efficient population-level policy methods could minimize underage drinking. The Community Preventive Services Task Force suggests some effectual methods for inhibiting excessive drinking, such as:

Increasing alcohol taxes.

Controlling the concentration and number of alcohol outlets.

Implementing laws banning alcohol sales to minors.

Photo by Greg Raines

Parents And Setting An Example

A stable home environment is a strong deterrent that can keep your teen from succumbing to peer pressure and experimenting with alcohol. As a matter of fact, most psychologists and experts suggest that parents should openly talk about the negative effects of alcohol with their children early on; also, you should discuss their expectations about drug and alcohol use.

A surprising number of children resort to drinking just because a family member, friend or public personality they idolize enjoys his/her drink. Also, because most children have a strong tendency to emulate their parents, regular drinking on the part of a parent can set a very bad example.

Children Learn From Their Parents Behavior

It is also imperative to watch your behavior and attitude towards the acceptance of drinking as a parent since this can impact an adolescent's decision to initiate and continue drinking.

Consistent parental discipline that is not too harsh helps to keep kids away from alcohol.

Unfortunately, 65% of teenagers with alcohol abuse problems mentioned that they get alcohol from their friends or family. This coupled with the fact that an average 18 year old is bombarded with over 100,000 television commercials that encourage or advocate drinking in some way can have significant ramification on a teenager's perception towards alcohol consumption.

Research into teenage alcohol abuse problem suggests that children whose parents spend time interacting with them in a positive way and teens who feel close to their parents are less likely to drink.

Parents, Teens And School

Parents should discuss stress management techniques and strategies with their child and talk to them about any issues that they may be facing with their school mates. A national study into alcohol abuse in teens found that children who are socially accepted in school and feel that their teacher's treat them fairly are less likely to consume alcohol.

Ensuring that you communicate with your child and take an active interest in his scholastic life and performance will help you to make sure that your child stays away from enticements that may lead to alcohol abuse in the future.

Danger Time

Instances of alcohol abuse in teens are usually on the rise between 3 pm and 6 pm; right after school before the parents get home from work. Because children tend to have free rein in this period, a lot of children invite their friends and acquaintances over and this is the time when a child may be talked into having his first tryst with alcohol.

One of the best solutions to avoid alcohol abuse in teens is to ensure that your child is kept occupied even after school and the simplest and most effective way to do so is by encouraging him/her to participate in extra-curricular activities.

"If you're unsure whether alcohol may be a problem, speak with one of our supportive counselors. With many having first-hand experience they understand the struggle. The free chat is confidential & they are available 24/7."

Don't Beat Yourself Up

Despite all the above, the fact remains that alcohol abuse in teens IS prevalent because teens are teens. Most teens are going to abuse alcohol and then grow out of it.

However, a minority will go on to develop alcoholism, you are never going to stop teens abusing alcohol if they want to. However, it is your responsibility to try and catch the issue in its infancy and help your child to seek help for his/her teenage alcohol abuse problems.

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. Parenting to Prevent Childhood Alcohol Use. January 2021.

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

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Teen Substance Use & Risks. February 10, 2020.

Michigan Health System. Teen Alcohol and Drug Use.

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