Research Review: What Have We Learned About Adolescent Substance Use? PMC

Screening by a primary care provider or other health practitioner (e.g., pediatrician) provides an opportunity to identify problems early and address them before they escalate. NIAAA and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend that all youth be regularly screened for alcohol use. When you call our helpline, you’ll be connected with a representative who can assist you in finding mental health and addiction treatment resources at any of the Ark Behavioral Health addiction treatment facilities. Substances such as alcohol, prescription drugs, and illicit drugs cause physical changes in the body, which is especially concerning for teens who are still growing and developing.

teens alcohol use

Underage drinking can have serious implications that may not show up until later in your child’s life. Using alcohol at a young age can impact how a teen’s brain develops, disrupt their sleeping patterns, delay puberty, make it harder to concentrate at school, and even increase their risk for liver and heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer. Without treatment, youth who drink excessively as teenagers are more likely to become problem drinkers than adults. Depending on the severity of alcohol misuse, the youth’s prognosis can be significantly improved by interventions ranging from involving the teen’s parents to having the teen participate in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or more intensive treatments. For youth in the first stage of alcohol use (having access but not having yet used alcohol), preventive measures are used. Therefore, healthcare professionals recommend limiting access to alcohol or other drugs, addressing any risk factors of the youth or family, as well as optimal parental supervision and expression regarding expectations.

Novel rodent findings

Research based on the TARS data have found that adolescent boys, compared to adolescent girls, report greater levels of influence from their dating partners (Giordano et al., 2006), justifying the initial expectation that dating partners’ alcohol use will have a stronger effect for adolescent boys. Regarding alcohol use, more specifically, some prior literature, albeit based on college samples, has found that dating partners have a larger influence on women’s drinking patterns (Young & d’Arcy, 2005). Additionally, in an analysis of gender differences in alcohol consumption, adolescent boys’ drinking was influenced more so by peers, and adolescent girls’ drinking was influenced more so by romantic partners (Kuhn, 2015). Yet, other studies did not find gender differences in the influence of romantic partners on adolescents’ alcohol use (e.g., Cornelius et al., 2016), and some studies only examined men (e.g., Angulski et al., 2018; Kim et al., 2013).

  • Animal studies have also shown adolescent rats to be less likely to display certain “hangover” symptoms during the post-intoxication recovery period than adults, including hangover-related increases in anxiety (Varlinskaya & Spear, 2004).
  • Moreover, if your son or daughter eventually does begin to drink, a good relationship with you will help protect him or her from developing alcohol-related problems.
  • Adolescents go to treatment daily, usually for 4 hours per day, and attend school at least part time.
  • Avoid making jokes about underage drinking or drunkenness, or otherwise showing acceptance of teen alcohol use.
  • One suggestion is the suppression of neurotrophins, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a regulator of the survival and differentiation of newly generated neurons.

If you suspect that you or a friend has an alcohol problem, there are many treatment options available, and the earlier you get help, the better. Talk with a trusted adult, such as a parent, family member, coach, school counselor, doctor, certified substance use counselor, or a leader in your faith community. Formerly known as alcoholism, alcohol use disorder (AUD) can affect people of all ages. Although the following signs may indicate a problem with alcohol or other drugs, some also reflect normal teenage growing pains. Experts believe that a drinking problem is more likely if you notice several of these signs at the same time, if they occur suddenly, and if some of them are extreme in nature.

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The methodology of the review was by design not structured or meta-analytic, but rather a general cross-section of recent advances and findings. Additionally, the review focused largely, but not exclusively, on data derived from United States samples. As such, caution should be taken in interpreting findings, acknowledging the potential for limitations in generalizability across populations, policies, and cultural and environmental factors.

  • If you can, try to keep friends who have been drinking from doing anything dangerous, such as trying to walk home at night alone or starting a fight.
  • Additionally, some “designer” and synthetic substances may not be included among commonly available urine drug testing panels.

Either directly or indirectly, we all feel the effects of the aggressive behavior, property damage, injuries, violence, and deaths that can result from underage drinking. Alcohol is the most widely used substance among America’s MASH About Us youth and can cause them enormous health and safety risks. The following warning signs of teen drug use can help you understand if your friend or family member needs help from a substance use disorder treatment program.

Contributors to Adolescent-typical Alcohol Sensitivities

Explain to your teen that this lack of privacy is a consequence of having been caught using alcohol. It’s important to remain calm when confronting your teen, and only do so when everyone is sober. Explain your concerns and make it clear that your fears come from a place of love. Your child needs to feel you are supportive and that they can confide in you.

So consider pointing them to information on topics such as detox, outpatient, inpatient, aftercare, the admissions process, types of therapies, family treatment, and more. Bear in mind, the manner in which you approach this conversation is also important. So you might want to peruse information on how to talk to an alcoholic before you broach the topic. All of that said, it’s important to explore the potential effects so you, your children, or others in your life can better understand and mitigate these effects.

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