It’s common for parents to think that drinking is part of growing up, and that all teens will try it at some point or another. Adults sometimes even see this as good social behavior because it means they have friends and are being social. While these may be common situations and many teens may never develop a problem with drinking, it’s important to look for signs of addiction and stage an early intervention if necessary. The disease of alcoholism is progressive and only becomes worse over time; however, much like other diseases, it’s easier to recover from when it’s caught at an early stage. If you think your teen might have a problem with alcohol, there’s still hope for her to live a happy and successful life.
Alcoholism In Teens
Teens are naturally impulsive, curious and sometimes even rebellious, so it’s no surprise when they begin experimenting with alcohol at a young age. The danger is that teens are much more at risk for developing alcoholism than those who begin drinking in a later stage of life, as the teen body hasn’t yet fully developed. There are certain parts of the brain that don’t develop until people are in their 20s, which is one of the main reasons there’s a legal drinking age in most parts of the world.
The pleasure center of the brain impacts basic human survival instincts and tells people when they’ve had a good experience, and that they should do it again. For example, the pleasure center is triggered when people eat foods they like, and it can then induce the craving for that food again. The frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for impulse control, self-awareness and moderation of everything the pleasure center enjoys, but it develops at a much later age. When individuals are eating a good meal and don’t want to stop, the frontal lobe is the part of the brain which tells them that even though the food is good, they should stop eating before getting sick.
Studies have shown that those who suffer from the disease of addiction have an abnormality in the frontal lobe of their brains, which is one of the main reasons they’re unable to moderate their drinking or using. When teens begin drinking in excess on a regular basis, not only is it much more difficult for them to understand the potential consequences of their actions, they can also delay the maturing process of the frontal lobe which can evolve into an addiction.
Holding an early intervention for your teen is the best way to get her into treatment before it’s too late. She’ll most likely be very resistant to this idea because the disease of addiction is one that tells the person she doesn’t have a problem. However, it’s important to have your teen speak with an addiction specialist so that a proper evaluation can be made. An addiction specialist will typically recommend outpatient treatment, as teen addictions usually aren’t severe enough yet for this age group to need intensive inpatient treatment. Your teen will be able to keep attending school while going to the center for outpatient treatment.
If you’d like more information about helping your teen recover from alcoholism, call our helpline today at 800-447-9081.