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Updated on December 29, 2022
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Teen Alcohol Rehab

Teen Alcohol Abuse

Teenage alcohol abuse is prevalent worldwide. The seriousness of this issue cannot be understated.

Teenagers are more susceptible to alcohol and drug addiction than adults. They can experience real and substantial consequences because of addiction.

Reportedly, 1.19 million teens aged 12 to 17 binged alcohol in 2020. About 2 million teens nationwide report using drugs.7 

Research shows that people who begin drinking before age fifteen are four times more likely to develop a substance use disorder. 

Why Do Teens Abuse Alcohol?

Teenagers love to experiment and try new things out of curiosity. However, some teens quickly move from experimentation to binge drinking or alcohol abuse.

Several factors contribute to alcohol abuse and addiction, including:

  • Self-esteem issues
  • Stress relief
  • Environmental influences or peer pressure
  • Mental health problems like anxiety, depression, etc.
  • Early exposure to alcohol through family members 
  • Exposure to domestic violence 
  • Fast and easy access to alcohol

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How to Recognize if Your Teen Needs Alcohol Rehab

Not all teens who abuse alcohol will need to go to rehab. Alcohol treatment is most useful for adolescents who have an alcohol use disorder.

Here are some signs that your teenager may have a severe problem with alcohol:

  • Sudden and drastic changes in behavior and appearance
  • Lying about alcohol use
  • Borrowing or stealing money for alcohol
  • A sudden drop in grades
  • Getting in trouble at school or with the police for drinking
  • Hanging out with new friends that drink
  • Giving up previous activities in favor of partying
  • Memory lapses
  • Poor concentration

What to Do if Your Teen Needs Rehab

If your teen has a problem with alcohol, talk with their doctor or therapist first. They can direct you to facilities that offer alcohol addiction treatment.

Many medical facilities will have resources that you can utilize. If they don’t have any services in-house, they will refer you somewhere else that has them.

Types of Alcohol Rehab for Teens

Alcohol rehabilitation programs help patients fully recover from their addiction. These programs help patients maintain a healthy, sober life long-term.

The best treatment option will depend on a few factors, such as: 

  • Their physical and mental health condition 
  • School and work responsibilities
  • Living situation 
  • Support system 

The three most common types of alcohol rehab for teenagers are:

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What Makes Teen Alcohol Rehab Different?

A teen alcohol rehab is different from an alcohol rehab for adults. Here’s a quick rundown of the difference between the two.

  • Specialized training: Medical professionals at teen rehab centers specialize in teen substance abuse treatment
  • Teen exclusive program: Programs are specifically for those under 18 years old
  • Separated housing: Inpatient teen rehab centers keep the boys and girls separated

Teen rehab facilities are specifically designed to help them recover. These rehab centers help teens focus on their issues and build positive relationships. 

The professionals that work in teen rehab centers keep the kids safe and comfortable. They also ensure not to expose them to things they aren’t ready to handle.

How to Choose an Alcohol Rehab Center for Your Teen

There are a lot of treatment facilities available for teenagers. However, choosing an alcohol rehab center isn’t going to be easy. 

There are several factors to consider before making the final decision. Here are some things that you should look for to fully help your teen:

  • Parent involvement and family therapy programs
  • Customized treatment plans according to your teen's needs
  • A safe and comfortable environment where your teen can fully recover
  • A comprehensive and holistic treatment plan 
  • A program that tackles co-occurring factors like mental health issues
  • An aftercare program to prevent relapse
  • A treatment program that is appropriate to your teen's development and growth

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How Does Alcohol Affect Teenagers’ Brains?

Teenage brains are still developing and won’t fully develop until 25 to 30. Alcohol abuse can affect the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, which can impair the following:

  • Judgment
  • Decision making
  • Impulse control
  • Memory and learning

Long-Term Effects of Teenage Drinking

Long-term adverse effects of teenage drinking include:

  • An increased risk of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD)
  • Problems with learning and memory
  • Decreased problem-solving skills
  • Poor performance in school and work responsibilities
  • Many health risks, such as liver and heart disease

Teen Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is the most common form of substance abuse among teenagers. It is defined as having four to five drinks within two hours.

16% of young people aged 12 to 20 drink alcohol, and 9% reported binge drinking in the past 30 days.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

Binge drinking is hazardous, especially for teenagers. Their impaired judgment and decision-making can lead to a lot of dangerous situations.

Binge drinking can cause several problems, such as:

  • Drunk driving
  • Avoidable injuries (falls, burns, and collisions)
  • Alcohol poisoning 
  • Violence and assault
  • Sexual assault and domestic violence
  • Increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
  • Increased risk of pregnancy 
  • Chronic health diseases later in life (high blood pressure, liver disease, etc.)
  • Cancer (liver, colon, mouth, throat, and breast)
  • Memory and learning problems
  • Developing alcohol use disorders
  • Death

Teen Drinking and Sexual Assault

Sexual assault among adolescents is more likely to occur when alcohol is present.

Teen Drinking and Sexual Assault

Nearly 50 percent of all adolescent females have been sexually assaulted in some way. Approximately 20 percent of these sexual assaults involved alcohol.

Alcohol-Related Sexual Assault Victimization Among Adolescents: Prevalence, Characteristics, and Correlates

Alcohol is a significant factor in sexual assault and can contribute to sexual abuse in multiple ways. Here’s how alcohol can lead to sexual assault:8

  • A method used by potential assailants
  • Developing a false sense of security
  • Difficulty refusing sexual advances
  • Inability to decline due to inebriation
  • Misinterpretation of sexual interest
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Updated on December 29, 2022
9 sources cited
Updated on December 29, 2022
  1. Guo et al. “Differential effects of alcohol-drinking patterns on the structure and function of the brain and cognitive performance in young adult drinkers: A pilot study.” Brain and Behavior, 2022.
  2. Garofoli, M. “Adolescent Substance Abuse.” Primary care, 2020.
  3. NIAAA Publications.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  4. Binge Drinking Is a Serious but Preventable Problem of Excessive Alcohol Use.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019.
  5. Gilmore et al. “A randomized controlled trial targeting alcohol use and sexual assault risk among college women at high risk for victimization.” Behaviour Research and Therapy, 2015.
  6. Teen Drivers: Get the Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019.
  7. Drug Use Among Youth: Facts & Statistics” National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, 2020.
  8. Know! The Link Between Alcohol and Sexual Assault” Prevention Action Alliance, 2018.
  9. Hahn et al. “The Association Between Type of Sexual Assault and Post-Assault Alcohol Misuse Is Moderated by Avoidance Among Recipients of a Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examination.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 2019.

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