The dangers of alcohol abuse during the teenage years are well documented. Alcohol use has links to memory loss and deterioration of parts of the brain; in teens, the risk of alcoholism is unique. Since teen brains are still developing, they sustain serious damage that can be irreversible. To mitigate risk of permanent damage, parents of a teen struggling with an alcohol dependency should look into an adolescent drug detox program as soon as possible.
Teenage Alcohol Abuse Statistics
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that alcohol is the most common drug of abuse in youth in the United States. Though the consumption of alcohol is illegal for those under the age of 21, youth aged 12 to 20 drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. Teenagers are more likely to engage in episodes of binge drinking compared to adults, and 1/3 of all high school seniors reported a past 30 day drinking episode in the 2017 Youth Behavior Risk Surveillance System (YBRSS).
Early exposure to alcohol can have a demonstrable effect on a teen’s social life and future. In general, alcohol use in adolescence can lead to:
- Academic performance issues, such as more missed school or failing grades
- Legal issues, such as DUI, OWI, or crimes committed while under the influence
- Unwanted or unplanned sexual activity
- Social issues, such as a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Disruptions in normal development, including the brain
- Increased risk for hangovers and other illnesses
Additionally, research links the early onset of drinking with an increased risk of the development of an alcohol use disorder. The risk is highest for those who binge drink, and those who develop and alcohol use disorder may require supervised alcohol detox and withdrawal.