Teenage Alcoholism: The Myth of “This Will Never Be My Teen”
Posted Feb 19 2011 12:31pm
Most of the time when I get a teen referred to me after surviving an alcohol-related car accident, alcohol poisoning, or getting arrested for a DUI, the parents tell me they never suspected a teenage substance abuse. So many parents are in denial these days about teenage drug and alcohol abuse. After a crisis they tell me,”I have great kids” or “I can’t believe he would do this!” are typical responses. My goal is to help make parents vigilant about their teens as well as doing what they can for prevention.
Every single teen is at risk for teenage substance abuse!
Here are 3 reasons why every teen is vulnerable to teenage alcoholism and teenage drug abuse:
1. The frontal lobes of the teen brain are not developed. The frontal lobes help our adult brain with impulse control. The frontal lobe helps counteract our impulses and helps us assess risks. Therefore, teens do not have the ability to make good judgments about risks.
2. The grey matter or cortex of the brain is still developing in the teen years. Grey matter helps to “inhibit” our behavior. Teens have less grey matter and therefore have less control over their behavior than adults.
3. An underying mental health disorder is the root of many cases of teenage substance abuse (80% of teens that enter treatment for teenage alcoholism or teenage drug abuse have an underying mental health disorder). The most common underying mental health disorders include Conduct Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, anxiety, and depression.
Teenage drug and alcohol abuse if often a prelude to serious and ongoing addiction problem as adults. It is our job as parents to play an active role in prevention and be vigilant to signs of teenage alcoholism or teenage drug abuse.