For many teens, high school is a time of experimentation. Sometimes this experimentation is harmless, like a new haircut or a change in style. Other times, these experiments can have a darker impact.
The 2019 Youth Risk Behavior survey found that 29% of high school students reported drinking in the last 30 days, with 14% reporting binge drinking in the same time frame.
Despite alcohol being legal for those over 21, excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for over 95,000 deaths in the US each year. Unfortunately, teenagers aren’t exempt from this statistic. If you suspect your son might be abusing alcohol or suffering from alcoholism, here are some signs to keep an eye out for:
One of the biggest signs that your son may be suffering from alcoholism is any changes in his school life. If his grades are slipping, he’s absent from class or extracurriculars, or you’re receiving calls from teachers about his behavior at school, this is definitely a signal that something is wrong. In addition, failing classes at school can actually fuel the cycle of your son’s alcoholism.
A sudden change of friend group can be another big red flag of teen alcoholism.
Alcohol has a very strong and specific scent, so the smell of alcohol on your son’s breath or clothing may be one of the easiest signs to spot.
In addition, you may notice his personal hygiene deteriorating, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or fatigue. If you had previously been aware of occasional alcohol consumption, you may notice that his tolerance for alcohol has increased.
Teens are prone to mood swings, so this isn’t necessarily a red flag. However, if you notice your son’s mood swings have suddenly become more frequent and extreme, it could be a sign of alcoholism.
Increased secrecy and isolation are two more signs to look for if you suspect that your son is an alcoholic.
Subtle Signs that May Indicate Your Son is an Alcoholic
Think about what your son was like before you began to worry about alcohol abuse. If you can remember some of the influences he’s had in the past, it can be a clue as to how likely it is for your son to become an alcoholic.
If any of the below points sound like your son, he could be at risk for abusing alcohol:
- He was often bored and/or craving excitement
- He observed other people drinking a lot, whether in real life or through popular media
- He often seemed unhappy or lacked confidence
- He didn’t have accurate information about the risks of alcohol misuse
What to Do if You Think Your Son is an Alcoholic
If your son is displaying several of these warning signs, he may be an alcoholic. The first step to helping him is to have an open and honest conversation with him. Don’t accuse him of anything – instead, ask questions and give him the opportunity to explain the situation.
Depending on the severity of your son’s alcohol abuse, he may need to go through a physician-monitored detox process prior to starting an addiction treatment program.
Having a loved one suffer from alcoholism can be scary and sad, but having a caring parent like you will help your son to overcome his addiction.
Any Length Recovery specializes in helping addicted men find freedom from addiction through the healing power of the 12 steps. Learn more about our program by giving us a call at (512) 598-9968.