Unchildish Problem: How to Help a Teenager Fight Alcoholism?

Sep 23, 2019

“My son is 14 years old and he is in the eighth grade. He was always growing up to be a responsible, diligent boy. But at the age of 13 it seemed like my son was replaced. I can’t understand how I could miss the moment when he got into bad company.

It always seemed to me that children could not even think about drinking alcohol. But his new company was different – they were smoking, drinking, and walking in the streets until midnight. And I later learned they were even stealing a bit. I don’t know what these guys had to get my always calm son interested. But he began to spend all his free time with them. At the age of 13, he first came home drunk. My husband and I were shocked. We had a conversation, we tried to convince him to stay away from this company. In response, we heard only “I want and will go out with them”.

Then it became even worse. Over the last year, my son has been drinking dozens of times and even one day was under arrest for hooliganism. I want to protect my child from danger. It seems the way to alcoholism isn’t very far for him.

I don’t understand the main thing – why my teenager drinks. We have a prosperous family. Our son always received everything he wanted. But now I don’t know how to talk to him. All of my words are confronted”.

– Elena, 35


Many people are sure that only children from disadvantaged families will start drinking during adolescence. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Severe statistics about teenage alcoholism prove that about 33% of schoolchildren in Russia at the age of 13-14 have already tried alcohol and periodically take it. [1] It is rare that a parent can be absolutely sure that his/her child will not fall into this bleak statistic. “We didn’t look after him well enough” is the most common phrase at the reception of a narcologist, repeated by mothers and fathers, worried about the state of their teenager. In this article we raise important questions: “What reasons push a child into the net of harmful habits. What should parents do if a teenager is drinking?”


  • Causes of alcoholism among teenagers
  • Stages of formation of teenage alcoholism
  • Influence of alcohol on the body of a teenager
  • Consequences of teenage alcoholism
  • Prevention of alcoholism among teenagers
  • Treatment of teenage alcoholism

Causes of alcoholism among teenagers

Teenage alcoholism is the regular use of alcohol at the age of 15-17. Since a child’s body is less tough than an adult’s, dependence on alcohol in a child progresses more rapidly. If a teenager began to drink at 12-13 years old, by the age of 18-20, he/she will be developing a serious physical alcohol addiction. [2]

The causes of teenage alcoholism provide the way to identify the measures for the prevention and treatment of this disease. The factors influencing the formation of the pernicious habit can be divided into biological and mental.

  1. Biological factors

Regarding the biological factors of the risk of early alcoholism development, narcologists refer to heredity. It is believed that when children are born into families with at least one alcohol dependent parent, the pernicious habit develops 3-4 times more often. [3]

  1. Mental factors

According to experts, psycho-emotional factors are the main reason for early alcoholism development. The teenage crisis is associated with serious changes in the child’s body and his/her worldviews. A teenager tries to solve many of the problems that for him/her seem to be “global”, with alcohol.

 For the psycho-emotional reasons of teenage alcoholism, the following can be attributed:

  • lack of attention from parents;
  • desire to build self-affirmation in the company of peers;
  • weak character, and as a consequence using of alcohol “for the company”. [2]


 In 60% of cases, the first glass of alcohol received by teenagers with a diagnosis of further alcoholism is from the hands of their parents. Adults are convinced that it is better their child tries alcohol at home than “somewhere on the street”. And as young as the age of 10 they will dare to offer a son or a daughter a drink during a family holiday. [4] But this attitude on the part of parents is perceived somewhat as a reward. A little later, the teenager will conclude that mother and father are not at all against his/her drinking. This may be the first step toward alcoholism.

Stages of formation of teenage alcoholism

The harmful habit when formed by a teenager gradually passes 3 stages. [3]

The first stage

This starts with the first alcohol sample. Often a schoolchild agrees to this under the influence of a senior comrade or in a company of friends. It is difficult for the teenager to say a firm “no”, even if he/she understands perfectly that alcohol is bad. A big role here is played by curiosity, the desire to be “like friends” and the desire to self-affirm as a member of the team. These are reasons why teenagers drink alcohol.

According to experts, the younger a child,  from the first alcohol sample. the more likely he/she will become dependent.

The second stage

After the first try of alcohol, a searching additive behavior gradually develops and “experiments” with various alcoholic beverages begin. A teenager has the desire to try not only beer, from which “everything began”, but also other types of alcohol – cocktails, energy drinks, wine, vodka. All pocket money goes to the purchase of alcohol, and usually not of the best quality.

At this stage of the development of alcoholism in adolescence, there is no mental dependence, but group mental dependence can be formed. A teenager, even if he/she initially doubted whether to drink or not to drink, is already fully oriented toward the company of friends, in which everyone drinks. He/she cannot get out of the flock.

The third stage

This is the stage of a transition of addictive behavior to a disease. The rate of development of addiction increases if the teenager drinks alcohol regularly and gradually increases the amount.


According to narcologists, the course of teenage alcoholism is not subject to a single assessment, it cannot be compared with “adult” drunkenness. Many patients under the age of 18 are diagnosed with the first stage of alcoholism. The second stage of the disease is extremely rare due to the main symptom missing in young people – a withdrawal syndrome. [4]

Influence of alcohol on the body of a teenager

The personality of a child during the teenage crisis undergoes many changes, Habits and character are formed and an idea of the external world is laid. If at some stage of psychological or social development the child gets involved with alcohol, there is a breakdown.

The organisms of young men and women, can over 2-3 years, resist the negative effects of alcohol on the body, since most of them do not yet have serious adult diseases. At the first stage of the addiction formation, a teenager can feel well physically, which only pushes him/her to drink even more. But then, serious health problems will inevitably begin. There are few enzymes in the liver that can split ethanol, and poisons “diverge” throughout the body provoking the development of numerous diseases.

A child gradually falls behind in mental development. Hence, the numerous problems with school performance begin. A child does not study well and does not remember what he/she has been taught. In a number of cases, the harmful habit causes a teenager to quit school.

Also, early alcoholism stops the process of the formation of ethical and moral norms. Alcohol-containing substances “cut off” the centers of self-control in the brain. A teenager ceases to adequately perceive what is happening, lacks understanding of what is good or bad and does not realize the consequences of own actions. A drunken teenager can cause harm to surrounding people – violence, beating, theft, vandalism. [4]

Alcohol addiction leaves its imprint on the personality and behavior of a child:

  1. School performance falls down.
  2. Friends change. At the same time, a child refuses to introduce parents to new friends.
  3. A teenager loses interest in what he/she previously liked. Hobbies are now in last place.
  4. Aggressive reaction when parents try to talk about addiction to drinking.
  5. A state of apathy, low energy.
  6. A child begins to ask for more pocket money and can even steal it from your wallet.
  7. A child commits legal violations (fights, theft, and hooliganism).
  8. Your daughter/son does not want to let relatives in his/her room.


In addition, drinking teenagers are often thin, pale and have poorly developed secondary sexual characteristics. Due to the regular intake of ethanol into the body of a child, the work of the gastrointestinal tract can be disrupted. So, hair and nails become thin. These are some external signs of teenage alcoholism, which can help parents understand that their child has problems. [4]

Consequences of teenage alcoholism

It is important not to miss a moment when a teenager can still be helped. Alcoholism at its later stages is a disease from which the child has very little chance of recovery and becoming a full member of society.

Teenagers’ alcoholism entails numerous problems including:


  • rapid development of pathology of the heart, liver, stomach, kidneys;
  • diseases of the reproductive system (both boys and girls);
  • early sexual experimentation, which is dangerous for unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections;
  • mental disorders;
  • completely ignoring the educational process, which minimizes the chances of getting a decent education. [3]

Prevention of alcoholism among teenagers

The personality of an individual is formed from childhood. Therefore, prevention of alcoholism should begin as early as possible. The main task of parents is to give maximum attention to the problem, and not to neglect the development of their child. It is much easier to prevent addiction than to treat it in the future.

What should be included in the prevention of alcoholism in the teenage environment?

  • A positive example from parents. If Mom and Dad abstain from drinking alcohol in the presence of their child, he/she will not have the desire to try a “forbidden” drink.
  • It is important to provide the child with a variety of leisure activities so that he/she does not have the opportunity to spend a lot of time in the company of non-trusted peers.
  • Parents need to encourage the child’s interest in learning and hobbies.
  • It is important that the family has friendly and trusting relationships. [4]

Taboos and emotional morals on the part of parents are not the best methods for the prevention of teenage alcoholism. It is recommended that conflicts should be resolved only through peaceful dialog in the upbringing of a child at a serious age crisis. Refrain from criticizing your teenager’s friends and from scandals about spending time in bad company. Such actions will be certainly perceived by the child as an invasion of his/her personal life and he/she will certainly do everything in a contrary manner.

The treatment of teenage alcoholism

The treatment of alcoholism in teenagers has its own peculiarities. This is mainly caused by the fact that children, due to their insufficiently developed psyche, are unable to recognize the existing problem. The responsibility rests entirely with the parents. It is they who must react in time and concentrate their efforts into helping the child.

Teenage alcoholism can occur at a complex stage of a child’s personality formation. He/she will certainly react negatively to the parents’ requirements to undergo a course of therapy. They may even cause a scandal or leave the home. It is important to speak frankly with the teenager, while avoiding accusations, and convince him/her to start self-work before it is too late.

The treatment of teenage alcoholism should be supervised by specialists. Home therapy is discouraged due to the peculiarities of developing the bad habit at an early age. According to narcologists, cases when a teenager needs to quit a binge are extremely rare, since the addiction has not yet reached its peak. If parents are able to react in time, psychotherapy can become an effective treatment. Behavioral psychology shows excellent results. 

At all stages of getting rid of this pernicious habit, young people need the support of relatives. Specialists advise parents to spend more time with their teenagers, become softer and more patient and help the child find an interesting hobby. [2]

One of the new methods of treating teenage addictions is by utilizing the 7Spsy behavior modification technique.  This is a patented course based on the theories of I.P Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A. Ukhtomsky. The program helps correct the behavior of a child by eliminating his/her alcohol addiction.

After the course, your child will master a healthy pattern of behavior. He/she will understand that alcohol does not solve any problems, does not help find interesting friends and does not provide chances to achieve success in life. This is the way to nowhere – only to live without an opportunity for development and prospects. After changing negative attitudes, a teenager will find more rational ways to get rid of fears and depression – the very emotions that can push an unformed personality to try alcohol.


The 7Spsy behavior modification technique course is designed for up to 6 weeks. Teenagers are very secretive and react sharply to criticism and the ridicule of peers. But a child can relax by taking the 7Spsy course, as the classes are held in a convenient and completely confidential remote mode. The child is not obliged to inform either friends or teachers that he/she is getting rid of alcohol addiction. A psychologist gives all necessary consultations in a convenient remote mode – by e-mail, in online chats and over the phone.

Information from this website cannot be used for self-therapy and self-diagnostics. 

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