So Let’s Talk About Alcohol
One of the most common concerns we see with clients and their families at the NJFAI is alcohol use and abuse. Sure the focus nationally right now is opioids (and understandably so considering the increasing death rate) but alcohol continues to be a prominent issue we see in our community and surrounding towns.
Typically boys have alcohol for the first time at 11 years old and girls have their first drink at 13. While drinking has decreased among teens, it is still a prominent issue.
Teenage Alcohol Use
A 2015 study found that 1 in 3 high school students reported drinking alcohol in the previous 30 days while 1 in 6 students reported binge drinking. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism define binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that results in a rising of the blood alcohol level (BAL) to the legal limit. To reach this level men have to have about five drinks in about two hours and women about four drinks in the same time period.
For any teenager to consume four to five drinks in a two hour time period is concerning. However the study found that up to 40% of binge drinkers do so at a high level. For example they report that they have at least eight drinks.
This produces a level of intoxication that can result is serious injury, alcohol poisoning, or death. Approximately 60% of high school seniors who drink binge drink.
Now not all teenage drinking will occur at such an intensive rate. But just because a teenager is not consuming eight plus drinks at once doesn’t automatically mean they are not at risk.
Alcohol offers a quick and easy way to lose inhibition and feel good. It also impairs judgement and can lead to issues including:
- Alcoholism: teens who start drinking before the age of 15 are 4 times more likely to develop alcoholism at some point in their life
- Increases the risk of physical and sexual assault: teens who drink are more likely to carry out or be the victim of a sexual or physical assault
- Cause injuries: in 2011 alone about 188,000 under the age of 21 visited emergency rooms for alcohol-related injuries
- Academic performance: alcohol use has been associated with decreases in academic performance and increases in dropping out of school
How to recognize if I or a loved one is struggling with alcohol?
- Odor of alcohol
- Sudden change in mood
- Change in school performance
- Decreased interest in previous hobbies
- Acting out at home or at school
If you or a loved one are exhibiting these behaviors and are drinking alcohol please call us at the New Jersey Family and Addiction Institute for a consultation. Alcohol use can have serious and last negative effects on certain individuals. Please call us to help.