Millions of American teenagers drink alcohol. Over half of high school seniors drink at least once a week. Alcohol is the most common drug used by teenagers.
Alcohol has special risks for this age group:
Teens drink for many reasons. Some grow up seeing their parents or other adults drinking. They also see drinking in movies and television or in magazine ads. Seeing alcohol use makes it more likely that teens will drink.
There is often pressure from friends or classmates to drink. A teen may drink to fit in with friends, or to appear more popular or mature. Teens may drink to reduce anxiety or feel more confident.
A teen having problems with anxiety or depression may use alcohol to deal with these feelings. Other things that may cause a teen to drink are:
These signs may mean that a teenager has a serious drinking problem:
It may be hard for you to admit that your teen is out of control with alcohol. Sometimes it helps to have your teen talk with a school counselor, healthcare provider, or a member of the clergy. Other professionals who work with teens with drinking problems can be found at hospitals, mental health centers, alcohol abuse treatment centers, or in private offices. Alcoholics Anonymous works with teens who want to stop drinking. To learn more about teenage drinking, call your local Alcoholics Anonymous Chapter or the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence at 800-NCA-CALL.