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Signs Your Teen Is Abusing Alcohol

Learn about the signs that your teen is abusing alcohol in this Howcast video featuring addictions specialist Paul J. Rinaldi, Ph.D.


I'm often asked by parents, what are the signs that their child is using or particularly abusing alcohol. In this area, we have to really be careful because there are some normal developmental issues with kids and kids often do experiment with different things and that doesn't necessarily mean that there's a problem, although most parents who don't want their children even experimenting because it's very scary for parents to do so. I'm a parent. I understand that. However, just because your child, you may find that they use alcohol, you may catch them and usually, what happens is parents catch their kids because they don't know how to use alcohol and they often will mistakenly overuse alcohol and they'll get drunk and they come home and you discover that. Most children who don't have a problem, they learn something from that. They learn about their tolerance. They learn that they often learn not to drink certain kinds of alcohol and they often, if they do drink, they'll often only drink in contexts that are hopefully safe where there's not driving. This is particularly an issue outside of cities where kids have to drive to get places or be driven. These signs that kids are getting in trouble with alcohol or other substances are really to look at changes in your children, changes in their mood, which again can be tricky because teenagers by definition are often really moody and that's very normal. But different kinds of moodiness, you have to really know your kid and really be able to look at your child and see them and know what they're normal state is. Some kids, some people in general are moodier than others. Some kids are very moody and that's normal so that's not a sign of any problem whatsoever. But if their moodiness changes, you have to be curious about that. If their social circle changes and they start hanging out different kids than they normally hung out with, that's something to look at and question. If their grades change, if they're good students and their grades start going downhill, those are things to look at. That doesn't necessarily means it's alcohol. It could be other things. It could be other drug use. It could be no substance use whatsoever. It could be that they're some psychological issues, that they're getting depressed. But again, as parents, what you need to look at mostly, is what the normal state is for your child and if that state is changing in any way that's concerning. So that's really our few things to really look at it as signs your child may be using alcohol in a negative way.

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