Posts Tagged ‘drinking’

Is Alcohol a Problem? A Test for Teens

Friday, May 20th, 2022

Addiction and Recovery

By Bob Gaydos

Summertime and alcohol — a risky combination for teens.

Free time and alcohol — a risky combination for teens.

Summertime is fast approaching. It can be a fun time for teenagers. For starters, there’s no school for most of them. Even if they’ve got a job, and, Covid or no, there’s plenty of time to hang out with friends. Go to the beach. Parties.

But lots of free time and limited responsibilities can also come with risks, especially if the fun often revolves around drinking. The legal drinking age may be 21 in this country, but underage drinking is still defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “a major public health problem.”

The CDC, monitoring several different surveys, says alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States and is responsible for some 4,000 annual deaths among underage youth. According to the CDC, even though drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States. Much of that is binge drinking (five or more drinks on one occasion for males, four for females).

The government conducts regular surveys of teenagers to gauge alcohol use and other risky behavior. The CDC notes that the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (the most recent one) found that among high school students, during the past 30 days:

— 29 percent drank alcohol 

— 14 percent binge drank 

— 5 percent of drivers drove after drinking alcohol.

— 17 percent rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.

Along with those deaths, there are tens of thousands of alcohol-related emergency room visits by teenagers each year. Perhaps not surprisingly, but worth pointing out, the CDC notes that “studies show a relationship between underage drinking behaviors and the drinking behaviors of adult relatives, adults in the same household, and adults in the same community and state.” One example cited: “A 5 percent increase in binge drinking among adults in a community is associated with a 12 percent increase in the chance of underage drinking.” And drinking often leads to other risky behaviors. Something for communities concerned about underage drinking to consider.

But it’s not all on the adults. Parental indifference to their children’s behavior and the friends they choose or ignorance of the harm alcohol can do to young minds and bodies are certainly key factors in the way many teenagers spend their free time. But teens aren’t wholly clueless about their behavior. In fact, it’s not unthinkable that a teenager whose social life revolves around alcohol has asked himself or herself if, just maybe, drinking is becoming a problem. 

What follows may help answer that question. For teens wondering about their use of alcohol or other drugs, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has prepared a self-assessment test to help determine if they — or someone they know — is at risk and in need of help.

Remember, this test is for teens. Read each question carefully and be honest. Consider your actions over the past 12 months. Answer yes or no and be sure to answer every question. 

 

A Self-Test for Teenagers

Do you use alcohol or other drugs to feel more self-confident, more sociable, or more powerful?

YES NO

 

Do you ever drink or get high immediately after you have a problem at home or at school?

YES NO

 

Have you lost friends because of your alcohol or drug use, or started hanging out with a heavy drinking or drug-using crowd?

YES NO

 

Do you feel guilty or bummed out after using alcohol or other drugs, or ever wake up and wonder what happened the night before?

YES NO

 

Have you gotten into trouble at home or school, missed school, or been busted or hospitalized because of alcohol or other drugs?

YES NO

 

Do your friends use “less” alcohol and/or other drugs than you, or do you consume alcohol or other drugs until your supply is all gone?

YES NO

 

Do you think you have a problem with alcohol or other drugs?

YES NO

The NCADD states: “The results of this self-test are not intended to constitute a diagnosis of alcohol or drug dependence and should be used solely as a guide to understanding your alcohol and drug use and the potential health issues involved with it. The information provided here cannot substitute for a full evaluation by a health professional.”

That’s their disclaimer. But obviously, the more “yes” answers, the more cause for concern. This is not a test to cheat on.

More information:

https://ncadd.org

http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/index.htm

Bob Gaydos is a freelance writer and retired award-winning journalist.

rjgaydos@gmail.com