Although the legal drinking age is 21, there is very little stopping teens from drinking. Fake IDs, lax enforcement of liquor laws, and the willingness of older people to buy alcohol for underage drinkers have made it a simple matter for teens to acquire alcohol. As a result, teen alcohol abuse is a common and often deadly problem in many places today; drunk driving is one of the leading causes of death among teenagers.
There is often a perception that teen drinking is not as big a problem as teen drug abuse, given that alcohol is legal to possess or use after the age of 21. Society seems much more willing to excuse alcohol abuse because it is more socially acceptable to drink than it is to use drugs. Unfortunately, this perception is gravely mistaken. Teen alcohol abuse is perhaps more dangerous than drug abuse, as alcohol is so much more readily available, and the problem of abuse can escalate dramatically once a person is legally able to purchase alcohol on their own.
Teen alcohol abuse does not have to go untreated, however. There are many treatment opportunities today that did not exist even a few years ago. If you suspect that someone you know is suffering from alcohol abuse, you can help. Addressing the problem as soon as possible and finding the right kind of help as soon as possible will greatly increase the chances that the long-term effects of abuse can be avoided. Treatment centers geared specifically towards teens and young adults are available. Many different options, from residential facilities to religious based groups, are available to help troubled teens. Once you have found the right treatment plan, do everything you can to support the recovery of the teen.
The problem of teen alcohol abuse should be more fully recognized so it can be more effectively treated; alcohol needs to be recognized as the addictive and potentially dangerous substance that it is. Early detection and treatment of teen alcohol abuse can not only help change individual lives for the better, it can help make everyone’s life safer and more secure.