For all the negative attention illegal drugs get, one of the most dangerous drugs for teens is actually 100% legal, at least for those over 21 years of age – alcohol. While addiction plagues millions of people around the world, the stigma associated with alcohol abuse is still a major inhibitor to recovery. At the Anthony Louis Center, we hope to remove the barriers that prevent people from seeking alcohol addiction treatment. If you suspect a loved one has a substance abuse problem, there is hope for a full recovery behind our doors.
Identifying Alcohol Dependence:
Warning Signs and the Difference between Abuse and Addiction
While both abuse and addiction are unfortunate afflictions, there are differences. People who abuse alcohol often have a difficult time moderating their consumption and the frequency with which they drink. Alcohol abuse is also marked by blackouts, frequent hangovers and the need to consume more than usual in order to maintain a buzz.
Addiction includes some (or all) of the following habits:
- The inability to quit drinking (e.g. trying to cut back and failing);
- Physical withdrawal symptoms, such as shakiness, insomnia or nausea;
- Harmful activities, such as driving under the influence or becoming aggressive when drunk;
- Losing relationships, failing classes and/or losing jobs.
For adolescents who may exhibit these behaviors, view our resource guide on teen substance abuse.
Understanding Alcohol Addiction: A Physical and Psychological Addiction
Contrary to popular belief, addiction is a disease that can be treated but never cured. In fact, clients in alcohol rehab centers will refer to themselves as alcoholics since recovery is a lifelong battle. Alcoholics may be psychologically or physically addicted – oftentimes both. In short, psychological dependence means the inability to feel normal without alcohol. Physical addiction is when the user’s body has become so accustomed to alcohol, there are serious withdrawal symptoms upon quitting.
How Many People Struggle with Alcoholism in Minnesota?
According to a recent report by the Minnesota Department of Health, alcohol abuse is so rampant in the state that the economic costs associated with the disease are more than $5 billion. The rate of alcohol use is well over the national average, as is binge drinking. Thankfully, we have several locations at which to seek help for yourself or a friend or family member. Our residential programs are available for 24-hour support with structured programs such as family counseling, lectures, recreation, and daily meals.
Signs Your Teen May Be Abusing Alcohol
You may find alcohol on them or notice that alcohol in the home is going missing, or being diluted to mask what has been taken. Look for the classic signs of intoxication, including slurred speech, uneven gait, and red bloodshot eyes, as well as the signs of a hangover the next day. Remember that your teen could be drinking throughout the day and at school, as opposed to only when they are out in the evening. Other signs of physical dependence, that could be due to alcohol or another drug, are declining academic performance, a new-found need for money for no apparent reason, incidents of unusual temper or personality change, and switching friend groups abruptly.
As A Parent, How Should I Respond?
If you confront your child about their drinking, which you should only do when you are both calm, they may deny it or dismiss drinking as not being a big deal. If you drink alcohol yourself, they likely will try to use that against you, and may accuse you of being a hypocrite. Don’t fall for this, especially if you enjoy alcohol responsibly as an adult. If you have your own drinking problem, this becomes more difficult, and you should consider taking steps to confront your own issue to lead by example. You can also consider recruiting another family member or family friend who is not personally struggling with alcohol to help you as you guide your teen.
Health and Societal Impact of Underage Drinking
Alcohol can cause a great deal of harm to the body and acute alcohol poisoning can kill directly by depressing the respiratory system. Though this requires consuming a great deal of alcohol quickly, this is just the type of risky behavior teens are prone to, such as doing shots. In fact, alcohol can be much more dangerous than softer drugs like marijuana. Another risk is that of developing a dependency on alcohol in the teenage age that leads directly to an adult life plagued with alcoholism and its attendant problems. This can easily translate into an unhappy adulthood or foreshortened lifespan, as well as difficulty holding down a job and maintaining relationships, and problems with DUIs and law enforcement. Being given access to teen drug & alcohol rehab now could prevent many problems down the road.
If you have a teen who has a problem with alcohol, contact Anthony Louis Center to learn about the resources, including alcohol inpatient treatment centers, that are available.