Alcohol Abuse Prevalent Among Teens

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Underage drinking is a problem that affects many teens across the U.S. Adolescents often don’t understand all the dangers that consuming alcohol can have, especially since their brains have not developed for the ability to assess risk. Teens are also likely to binge drink, which is the most dangerous form of drinking. In addition, teens can get into a great deal of legal trouble if caught drinking underage.

A Rising Problem for Teens

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that about 35 percent of teens aged 15 report having had at least one drink in their lifetime while about 23 percent of teens in this age group reported having alcohol in the past month. The NSDUH additionally reported that about 14 percent of adolescents aged 12-20 partook in binge drinking. The graphic below shows the rates of heavy alcohol use, alcohol dependency, and treatment for alcohol abuse among various age groups. Trends show that younger individuals partake in heavy drinking at higher rates than those older than them.

There are many dangers associated with drinking alcohol, especially when binge drinking. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that more than 4,000 individuals under the age of 21 die every year as a result of alcohol-related incidents, including car accidents, alcohol poisoning, other accidents, and suicide or homicide. An additional 190,000 underage drinkers were sent to the emergency room after suffering alcohol-related injuries just in 2008. When teens drink, they tend to drink too much, and even when this doesn’t result in injury, it can still result in poor decisions, like drinking and driving or engaging in sexual activity.  Additionally, since the brain continues to develop into an individual’s mid-twenties, binge drinking in the teen years can contribute to a range of issues in brain development.

The Warning Signs of Underage Drinking

If you are worried that your teen may be abusing alcohol or engaging in underage drinking, there are some warning signs to look out for, including:

  • Slurred speech & problems with coordination
  • Increased problems in school & less interest in their normal activities
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Hanging out with different groups of friends than before

It is important to talk to your teen about the risks associated with alcohol use and to help them understand all the problems that could occur as a result. Test Smartly Labs of Kansas City provides alcohol and drug testing to help discover if your teen is abusing alcohol or other substances. Contact us today at (816) 875-0464 to learn more.

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