How Can I Tell If My Child Is Drinking Alcohol?

Underage drinking causes problems at home and in school, and may lead to unsafe sexual activity or driving while intoxicated. Drinking before the age of 15 greatly increases the chance of developing dependence and addiction later in life. As a parent, it is important to take underage drinking seriously and be aware of your child’s habits and behavior. There are signs and symptoms to look out for in teens that drink regularly, and talking openly about alcohol may help your child quit drinking.

Behavioral Signs Your Child May Be Drinking Alcohol

Your child will likely act differently if she is drinking alcohol, both while drinking and the day after. Long-term behavior changes are worth noting as well. Some behaviors that may indicate your child is drinking alcohol are as follows:

  • Smell – alcohol carries a tell-tale odor on clothes, breath and hair. Also, be aware that some children may try to cover up the smell of alcohol with gum or perfume
  • Sleeping habits – erratic sleeping habits, such as sleeping a lot the day after seeing friends, may be a sign your child has been drinking
  • Anger – if your child has become more aggressive lately, it may be a sign of alcohol use
  • Moodiness – if your child is depressed, cries often or is irritable, this may indicate alcohol abuse
  • Hygiene – personal hygiene may become lax with regular alcohol use

These signs, along with your child generally being secretive and avoiding family members, may indicate alcohol use.

How to Approach Your Child about Drinking

If you have noticed signs that your child may be drinking, approach the situation directly and talk to your child. Some ways to have a positive/fruitful conversation with your child about alcohol are as follows:

  • Appeal to your child’s intelligence – focus on practical issues and consequences with underage drinking, such as legal problems, academic failure and the chance of making dangerous decisions while under the influence.
  • Stay calm – your child may become defensive or lash out during a conversation about her drinking. Prepare yourself for this ahead of time and keep anger under control.
  • Respect your child – don’t try to prove your child wrong or talk over her, as she may become closed off and stop listening to what you have to say.
  • Listen to your child – listen to what your child has to say about alcohol and his behavior. With regular alcohol use, whatever the individual’s age, there is often another problem or issue at hand.
  • Share facts and information – many young people are unaware of the dangers of addiction and how alcohol affects the brain and body. Research these topics and give your child the facts.

By respecting your child’s viewpoint and being honest about the consequences of underage alcohol use, you are more likely to persuade your child to stop drinking and talk about the problem.

Alcohol Treatment Help

If you think your child is drinking alcohol, treatment can help. Our counselors are here 24 hours a day at our toll-free helpline to answer your questions and help you decide if treatment is right for your child. Call now and begin the process of ending your child’s alcohol abuse.

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