Teen alcoholism is a serious problem today. Alcoholism in teenager must be treated differently than alcoholism in adults, because there are many different issues involved. For instance, teens with substance abuse problems are usually behind in school. They usually have problems dealing with authority figures. They usually have family problems (so do adult alcoholics, but the problems are different).
Signs of Alcoholism in Teenagers
- Physical: repeated health complaints, lasting cough, red and glazed eyes, fatigue.
- Emotional: personality change, mood swings, irritability, depression, lack of interest in things, low self-esteem.
- Behavioral: poor judgment, irresponsible behavior.
- Family: withdrawing from the family, starting arguments, breaking rules.
- School: drop in grades, negative attitude, truancy, disciplinary problems.
- Social: changes in friends, changes in dress, problems with the law.
If you think your teen may have an alcohol problem, you need to get an assessment by a qualified mental health professional or a drug and alcohol counselor. An assessment will not only diagnose the problem, but will also identify the level of care your teen will require if treatment is needed.
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Teen Alcoholism Treatment
Successful teen alcoholism treatment must have several components.
- Medical treatment. If your teen is under the influence when he or she is admitted to treatment, or if they drink regularly, they may need to detox. They may also need to be treated for medical problems related to drinking.
- Psychiatric care, to evaluate the teen for any mental health problems and prescribe psychotropic medications if necessary.
- Individual therapy, to address the issues that caused the teen to begin drinking. Unless these core issues are addressed, the teen will relapse, or will turn to other self-destructive behaviors.
- Group therapy, to teach teens new coping skills. Teens with substance abuse problems generally report that they use alcohol or other substances to deal with stress. Unless they learn new ways to cope, they will return to alcohol when things get stressful. Group therapy can also teach skills such as communication skills, problem-solving skills, etc. In addition, it allows teens the opportunity to interact with others with similar experiences in a supportive environment.
- Family therapy, to repair damaged relationships. Family involvement is a recommended component to the treatment of any alcoholic, but it is essential for the treatment of alcoholism in teenager. Whether teens are being treated in an inpatient or outpatient setting, they will ultimately recover in the family setting, so they will need the support and understanding of family members. Family education is often needed, as well, for family members to learn more about alcoholism.
- An educational component, so teens can catch up academically with their classmates.
- An aftercare component. Aftercare is an ongoing follow-up part of care that follows the initial treatment. It is essential to prevent relapse.
Teen Alcoholism Treatment Centers
There are treatment centers specifically designed to treat alcoholism in teenager, and there are treatment centers which treat both adults and teens. Those that treat adults and teens should have programs designed especially for teens. Before admitting your teen to a treatment center, make sure it includes the components listed above.
You’ve probably heard of teen “boot camps” and “wilderness camps” meant to treat troubled teens. The effectiveness of such programs is questionable, and they are not designed to treat alcoholism in teenager. If your teen has an alcohol problem, he or she needs to be treated in a licensed teen alcoholism treatment center.
Check with your health insurance company to see what treatment centers are covered by your plan. You can also check your local yellow pages for treatment centers, or look online.
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More about teen alcoholism on our main teenage alcoholism page
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