What are the signs and effects?
What may be some signs that my teenager is drinking?
There are a number of signs that your teenager may be drinking:
- Smelling of alcohol
- Changes in mood and behaviour
- Becoming very secretive (more so than usual)
- Lacking coordination in speech and movement
- Changing sleep patterns or being tired during the day
- Change in eating habits, weight or appearance
- Change in school performance and attendance
- Borrowing money
- Stealing and lying
Some of these signs may be similar to the normal behaviour changes that teenagers go through, so it is important not to jump to conclusions.
How can alcohol affect my teenager?
Behaviour and mental health
Heavy drinking and binge drinking have been linked to anti-social behaviour, mental health problems and permanent brain damage.
The main causes of death among 16 to 25 year olds are accidents, suicide and violence. Alcohol is often involved in these cases.
There is a definite link between drinking alcohol before sex and not using contraception. This can lead to crisis pregnancy and an increased risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
When teenagers are ‘hung-over’ they are experiencing a type of alcohol poisoning. They become dehydrated and as a result, feel sick, have headaches and become irritable.
Poor school performance
Teenagers who use alcohol may remember less of what they have learned. This has knock-on effects at school, especially around exam time. Alcohol use can be the result and cause of difficulties at school. It can also hinder the development of other skills, such as decision-making, personal and social skills.