It’s often expected that teens will experiment with alcohol and possibly get into some trouble now and then. However, when teens get addicted to alcohol, it can derail an otherwise bright future.
Parents who are concerned about teenagers alcohol abuse generally watch their kids closely, looking for the telltale signs of drug and alcohol abuse: slipping grades, losing friends, lack of interest in school or hobbies, so on and forth. Nonetheless, many parents don’t realize that there are a growing number of high-functioning teen alcoholics that display none of these symptoms.
What Is A High Functioning Alcoholic?
Contrary to the popular stereotype of an out-of-control drinker who puts everything aside to imbibe, high functioning alcoholics manage to hide their addiction and maintain relationships at school, work and home. While we still don’t really know why some people become alcoholics and others don’t, most parents equate being an alcoholic with being a failure. However, high functioning alcoholics defy that definition.
Symptoms of High Functioning Alcoholism in Teens
There are several symptoms that parents can watch out for in their teenagers to determine whether or not they may be a high functioning alcoholic. The main symptoms of the effects of alcohol and possible alcoholism can include:
· Blackouts and memory loss
· Demonstrates extreme remorse when caught drinking
· Drinking before the age of 15
· Family history of alcoholism
· Drinking in hiding and sneaky manners
· Impulsivity and emotionally driven
· Mental health disorder like anxiety or ADD/ADHD
· Obsession over alcohol
· Often sets up self-reward systems (if I do this, then I reward myself with this)
· Surrounds themselves with friends who like to drink
Teenage alcohol abuse is not a new problem that today’s parents face, but recognizing a high functioning alcoholic teenager can be tricky for parents who don’t know what signs to look for.
What Parents Can Do
Parents who suspect that their teenager is a high functioning alcoholic must take the necessary steps to ensure that their child gets the professional help they need to overcome their addiction. High functioning alcoholics often realize that their drinking is a problem and usually bargain with themselves over the years to quit, and then suffer repeated relapses. The desire for alcohol has such a strong grip over them, yet they often live in denial that they need professional help in order to quit.
5 Actions You Can Take To Help an Alcoholic Teen
Here are 5 things that parents can do to help their high functioning alcoholic teenagers:
1. Let them know how much their drinking hurts the family and the negative consequences that can occur.
2. Overcome the alcoholic teenagers denial by provide both facts and feelings during confrontation.
3. Share drinking assessment tools, tips on stopping, treatment referrals and statistics on drinking.
4. Arrange for interventions by professionals if needed, to show the alcoholic teenager the consequences of their drinking.
5. Get professional help to assist the teenager to quit drinking, which may involve medications, alcohol counseling and specialized treatment programs.
Parents need to remember that high functioning alcoholics are usually not as such recognizable. Teens who are doing fine in school and have plenty of friends can still disguise their drinking while functioning in society. Once parents learn that the high functioning alcoholic teenager is adept at concealing their problem from themselves and others, they will know what to look for in order to provide desperate needed help.