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Alcohol Abuse

Understand the Challenge
Understand the Challenge
Youth and alcohol.

The truth is that many young adults drink alcohol and approximately 5,000 die each year as a result. About 30% of the kids who die are involved in alcohol-related car accidents. Those who have problems with alcohol are more frequently injured in accidents, have more frequent contact with the legal system, more health problems, have more challenges at school, and more conflicts at home. While the decision to use alcohol may be influenced by peer pressure, rebellion, or curiosity, genetics and the age of first-use play a large part in determining which young people are apt to become alcoholics. Certainly the kids of heavy drinkers are most likely to develop problems of their own and risk-taking youth who start drinking early are more likely to develop a life-long relationship with alcohol.

  • 24% of 12th graders reported having five or more drinks in a row on at least one occasion within a two week time period.

    - NIDA: Monitoring the Future National Results on Drug Use, 2012
  • 24.1% of students have ridden one or more times in a car or other vehicle driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol.

    - CDC Surveillance System: 2011 National Overview
  • 21.9% of students had had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row (i.e., within a couple of hours) on one occasion within a 30 day time period (i.e., binge drinking).

    - CDC Surveillance System: 2011 National Overview
  • 69% of teens have consumed alcohol (more than just a few sips) by the end of high school.

    - NIDA: Monitoring the Future National Results on Drug Use, 2012
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Use

While the following behaviors may indicate an alcohol or drug problem, some also reflect the normal growing pains of youth. Experts believe that a substance problem is more likely if you notice several of these signs at the same time, they occur suddenly, or some are extreme in nature.

  • Mood changes: flare-ups of temper, irritability, and defensiveness
  • School problems: poor attendance, low grades, and/or recent disciplinary action
  • Physical or mental problems: memory lapses, poor concentration, bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination, or slurred speech
  • Dishonest about whereabouts
  • Rebelling against family rules
  • Change in peer groups
  • Reluctant to have you get to know their new friends
  • Finding alcohol in your kid's room or backpack
  • Smelling alcohol on his or her breath
Parent Guide
If you suspect your kid struggles with alcohol abuse or binge drinking, it is important to talk to them about what you see.

Let them know specific behaviors you have observed that concern you and ask open ended questions. Avoid making threats or entering into a power struggle with your kid stating facts. Explain the physical, mental, and legal consequences of underage drinking.

Consider teaching moments.

Talk about alcohol when opportunities present themselves. Perhaps during television commercials about alcohol, parties you may attend as a family where drinking occurs, or when stories of a consequence that occurred as a result of alcohol are on the news.

Eat dinner together.

Research has shown that teens from families who eat together infrequently are twice as likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as alcohol abuse (CASA, 2006).

Set a good example.

Parents' drinking behavior and favorable attitudes about drinking have been positively associated with adolescents initiating and continuing drinking.

Know your family history.

Share family information regarding alcohol use and abuse with your kid.

Educate yourself.

Become knowledgeable about alcohol so that you can share that information with kid and know what you're dealing with.

Talk to your kids about the dangers of alcohol.

Kids who were warned about alcohol by their parents and kids who reported being closer to their parents were less likely to start drinking.

Be involved in your kid's life.

Inconsistent discipline, and lack of parental support, monitoring, and communication have been significantly related to frequency of drinking, heavy drinking, and drunkenness among adolescents.

Talk to your kids about your family’s position on alcohol use.

Create an opportunity to explain and discuss why alcohol use is not acceptable in your family.

Get to know your kid’s friends and their parents

Don’t assume that other families share your family’s values. Explore the values of the families that your kid is around often.

Form a network of support.

Elicit the support of other adults so that you are not dealing with this issue alone. A strong support group can help tremendously.

Be available.

Let your kid know that they can always count on you for a ride or to discuss any problems they may have.


Emergency Resources

notMYkid is not a counseling or treatment agency. We are here to offer support, information and options. Destructive youth behaviors do not discriminate and have impacted many lives. A number of resources are available, and will assist you in finding the help necessary to make informed and empowered choices.

Teen Lifeline

602-248-TEEN (8336)
or 1-800-248-TEEN (8336)

National Teen Helplines


Community Information and Referral Services

(800-352-3792 within
area codes 520 and 928)

Maricopa 24-Hour Crisis Hotline


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