Alcohol and Teens (cont.)
Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD
Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD
Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
What is alcoholism?
As defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the diagnosis of alcoholism (formerly referred to as alcohol dependence and currently known as alcohol use disorder) can be made when it is determined that a negative pattern of alcohol use leading to a number of problems has been established. Those problems can include needing more alcohol to get intoxicated (tolerance), difficulties that occur when the effects of alcohol wear off (withdrawal), using more alcohol or for longer time than intended, and other life problems because of the use of alcohol.
Five stages of alcohol and drug use have been identified. The first stage is described as access to alcohol rather than use of alcohol, tobacco, inhalants, or other drugs. In that stage, minimizing the risk factors that make a teenager more vulnerable to using alcohol are an issue. The second stage of alcohol and other drug use ranges from experimentation or occasional use to regular weekly use of alcohol, tobacco, inhalants, or other drugs. The third stage is characterized by youths further increasing the frequency of alcohol use and/or using alcohol and other drugs on a regular basis. This stage may also include the teenager buying alcohol or other drugs or stealing to get their drug of choice. In the fourth stage of alcohol and drug use, adolescents have established regular usage, have become preoccupied with getting intoxicated ("high"), and have developed problems in their social, educational, vocational, or family life as a result of using the substance. The final and most serious fifth stage of alcohol or other drug use is defined by the youth only feeling normal when they are using. During this stage, risk-taking behaviors like stealing, engaging in physical fights, or driving under the influence of alcohol increase, and they become most vulnerable to having suicidal thoughts.
What are the causes and risk factors of teen alcoholism?
Family risk factors for teenagers developing drinking problems include low levels of parental supervision or communication, family conflicts, inconsistent or severe parental discipline, and a family history of alcohol or drug abuse. Individual risk factors include problems managing impulses, emotional instability, thrill-seeking behaviors, and perceiving the risk of using alcohol to be low. Girls who drink, as well as teens who begin drinking prior to 14 years of age and those whose mothers have drinking problems, are more likely to develop alcoholism. Teen risk factors for alcoholism differ a bit between the 14- to 16-year-old and 16- to 18-year-old age groups, in that 16- to 18-year-olds tend to be less likely to drink in excess when they have a close relationship with their mothers.
Facts about the societal risk factors for adolescent alcoholism include peer pressure and the portrayal of teen drinking in the media. For example, research demonstrates that the Internet and advertising, including that which occurs on social media, promotes drinking behaviors in teenagers.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/23/2015
Viewers share their comments
Alcohol and Teens - Personal Experience Question: At what age did you start drinking? Was peer pressure a contributing factor? Please share your story.
Alcohol and Teens - Signs and Symptoms Question: What were the signs and symptoms associated with alcohol intoxication in you, a friend or your child?
Alcohol and Teens - Parental Prevention Question: As a parent of a teen, how do you try to prevent alcohol use and/or abuse?
Alcohol and Teens - Causes and Risks Question: If known, what were the risk factors for developing alcoholism as a teenager?
Alcohol and Teens - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatment were helpful in treating your teen alcohol problems?
Alcohol and Teens - Help for Teens Question: Was there a counselor, group, or organization that helped you with your alcohol problems? Please share your experience.
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