In the past, alcohol use was a high school and college-age issue. Unfortunately, it now starts earlier and earlier. There is a growing problem with preteens, as young as 10, using alcohol. Early alcohol use is extremely dangerous for developing children and can lead to serious problems later on.
It’s crucial to address alcohol use among preteens before it gets out of hand. Today, we’ll discuss the signs to watch out for and how you can help as a parent.
Signs of Alcohol Use in Preteens
Here are the top signs of alcohol use in young teens according to the book Underage Drinking: Examining and Preventing Youth Use of Alcohol:
- New problems at school including poor grades or behavioral issues.
- Mood changes including irritability, anger, and depression.
- Change of friends or friend group.
- Uncharacteristic problems with memory and attention.
- Missing alcohol containers or disappearing alcoholic beverages in the home.
- Empty alcohol bottles in the room.
- Slurred speech, silly behavior, or poor motor coordination.
Treating Alcohol Abuse in Preteens
If you suspect your preteen is involved with alcohol, you should act fast. There are programs for alcohol use disorders tailored for young people. As a family, you must also set and enforce clear rules about alcohol use. Older family members should set an example regarding drinking. If your preteen or teen is struggling with alcohol use, lead by example and keep drinking out of the home.
Preventing Preteen Drinking
It’s never too late to enact preventative measures for teen/preteen drinking. Even if you do not notice any signs of alcohol use in your child, now is the time to take an active role. Here are some preventative measures to take:
- Discuss the mental, physical, and developmental consequences of alcohol use.
- Demonstrate responsible drinking practices.
- Keep alcohol out of access for children at home.
- Require adult supervision at any gatherings with friends.
- Involve your child in positive activities like volunteering, clubs, and sports.
- Get to know your child’s friends.
- Set limits regarding alcohol use without being too restricting of your child’s freedom.
Being an active participant in your child’s life drastically lowers the risk of young alcohol use. Setting an example for drinking responsibility will also help your child make smart choices about alcohol. Start the conversation with your children early to help prevent preteen drinking. If you notice any signs of alcohol use in your child, take action to help get them on the right course.