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The Transition House Blog

Facts about alcohol abuse among teens

Posted by Jennifer Dellasanta on Apr 2, 2018 2:03:47 PM

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In 2015, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducted the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The survey showed that 623,000 adolescents in the US, ages 12-17, struggle with alcohol use disorder. So, what is alcohol use disorder and how can you prevent it?

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a “chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.” Alcohol Use Disorder is different from consuming alcohol. A person with AUD struggles with an addiction to alcohol and requires medical attention and behavioral therapy to successfully recover from AUD and live a life of sobriety.

While the numbers show that alcohol abuse among teens is more common than you think, only 5.2% of teens struggling with AUD get treatment. This is why it’s important to begin the conversation about alcohol with your preteen or teenager early on. Having an open dialogue about alcohol use and understanding your treatment options can help prevent abuse.

How common is alcohol use among teens?

Nearly one-fourth of 8th graders have tried alcohol at least once. This number increases as teens get older, with 42% of 10th graders having tried alcohol at least once. Among teens and young adults, ages 12-20, more than 7 million report drinking alcohol in the last month. Of that 7 million, 5.1 million report binge drinking and 1.3 million report heavy drinking (binge drinking five or more days) in the past month.

How underage drinking affects students and teens

The consequences of underage drinking can be dangerous and potentially fatal. Alcohol use in teens and adolescents can affect normal brain development and increase the risk of developing AUD. Underage drinking contributes to the risk of injury, sexual assault, and even death, as in the case of fatal car crashes. The effects of underage drinking carry on into college years and young adulthood. The numbers alone speak volumes.

In one year:

  • 1,825 college students will die from alcohol-related injuries
  • 696,000 students are victim to physical assault by another student under the influence of alcohol
  • 97,000 students experience alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape
  • 1 in 4 students report academic consequences such as poor or failing grades and missing class due to alcohol use

How to prevent alcohol abuse among teens

Preventing underage alcohol use can reduce the risk of AUD. There are several things you can do to help your teen choose a life of sobriety. Maintaining a positive relationship with your teen and having an open line of communication can help. Talk to your teen about forming healthy friendships and taking part in extracurricular activities and hobbies that don’t include drinking. Develop a plan with them that outlines what to do if they are out with friends who are drinking and stress the importance of always having a sober driver.

How to treat alcohol use disorder

Regardless of the severity of alcohol use and alcohol use disorder, recovery is possible. Medication assisted treatment (MAT) is the safest and most effective way to choose recovery. MAT combines specific addiction medications and behavioral therapy to address and treat all aspects of addiction.

TTHI Counseling Center provides MAT at each of our locations in Florida and Tennessee. Contact us if you are ready to choose recovery today.


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