Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in 1935 in Akron, Ohio by Bill Wilson. In the 1930’s alcoholism was considered to be a failure of moral character and alcoholics were treated with total disdain and disrespect. Doctors gave alcoholics hallucinogens in an attempt to help them come to the realization that they needed to quit drinking. Thankfully Americans like Bill Wilson and his doctor Bob Smith saw that alcoholics are not bad people, they are sick people in need of help. Wilson created Alcoholics Anonymous which has since become a fellowship of over 2 million men and women worldwide who suffer from the effects of alcohol dependence.
Beer, wine, cocktails and distilled liquor/hard liquor are legally sold in the United States to adults over 21 years of age. Millions of people enjoy alcohol responsibly every day. However, millions more are suffering from some degree of alcohol addiction or dependence. Alcoholism is defined as drinking to excess and it includes both alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence.
An adolescent that abuses alcohol often struggles the following self-destructive and dangerous behaviors:
In severe cases, withdrawal from alcohol can cause seizures, agitation, confusion, hallucinations and fever. These symptoms can be dangerous and medical consultation is strongly recommended if heavy drinking is abruptly discontinued.
Although alcohol affects every organ of the body, its most dramatic impact is on the liver. Alcohol is rapidly absorbed in the upper portion of the small intestine. The alcohol-laden blood then travels to the liver via the veins and capillaries of the digestive tract, which affects nearly every liver cell. The liver cells are the only cells in the body that can produce enough of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenate to oxidize alcohol at an appreciable rate. Alcohol metabolism permanently changes liver cell structure, which impairs the liver’s ability to metabolize fats. For this reason heavy drinkers tend to develop fatty livers.
The following is a list of potential complications from drinking too much alcohol:
Adolescents are more likely to exhibit cognitive deficits including learning and memory dysfunction. Drinking during adolescence is particularly harmful due to the fact that teen bodies are in the midst of critical stages of neuro development including neuronal connectivity in different brain regions. The fact that the teenage brain is not fully developed makes an adolescent especially susceptible to the harmful effects of alcohol.
Alcohol’s Effects on Relationships
Alcohol abuse can have a significant effect on family members, friends and extended family. For this reason AL-ANON was created as a spinoff of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is a support group for friends and family members of problem drinkers. AL-ANON’s basic principles include education regarding “enabling” and “co-dependency” and how to support yourself despite the actions of the alcoholic teenager.
As a parent it can be difficult to learn that your child is drinking. It may be that you have come to a gradual realization that your child is abusing alcohol. Suspicious events such as missing bottles of liquor or diminishing amounts of liquor in the home may lead you to believe something is wrong. Additional behaviors such as irritability, mood changes, missing money, secretive behaviors, forgetfulness regarding the behaviors the teen has engaged in while drinking, a change in friends, a change in activities and possible legal issues such as a DUI. These things are all red flag signals that there is a problem.
Admitting that there is a problem is the first step. The second step is reaching out to get help. It takes a great deal of courage and strength to ask for help in treating your child’s alcohol problem.
We lead youth meetings for clients to replace alcohol-fueled events with “birthdays” of sobriety and chip/token recognitions of sobriety. The teenagers at Adolescent Growth proudly display their chips and draw strength from gripping it when feeling triggered. These chips are visual symbols of the sacrifice involved in maintaining sobriety. They serve as a motivator to receive the next “30 day chip”.
It’s Time for a Change
An adolescent who is drinking is screaming out for help. At Adolescent Growth we have the tools to help. The drinking has to stop and we are ready to begin the healing journey with you, your teen and your family. If you are ready for your family to return to normalcy, please call one of our compassionate admissions counselors now.
Please call our kind and compassionate admissions counselors any time day or night at 888-948-9998 or verify your benefits today.