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Resources: Underage Drinking in Children

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The Warning Signs of Underage Drinking

  • School work has declined; grades suddenly slipping or dropping dramatically

  • Missing school (skipping secretly or too "tired" or "sick" to go)

  • Mood changes (irritable, crying jags)

  • Dropping out of usual activities (music, sports, hobbies)

  • Physical appearance changing (poor hygiene, unusual style changes)

  • Friends suddenly change; doesn't introduce new friends

  • Money or valuables missing from parents' purse, from home

  • Furtive or secretive behavior (e.g., bedroom door locked and takes long time to answer)

  • Hostile, aggressive outbursts

  • Seems to have "lost" motivation

  • Forgetfulness

  • Unusual sleeping habits (changing over time or dramatic change)

  • Depressed

  • Anxious

  • My child just doesn't seem "right"



Risk factors that could contribute to a drinking problem in children

  • Race and ethnicity - Some racial groups, such as American Indians and Native Alaskans for example, are more at risk than others of developing alcohol addiction.

  • Genetics - A teen with an alcoholic sibling or parent is four times more likely to develop a problem with alcohol than someone without such a family history.

  • The presence of mental health disorders - Alcohol problems often go hand in hand with mental health problems such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and schizophrenia.

  • Personality traits - Teenagers who believe alcohol makes it easier to socialize, for example, tend to drink more than those who don't believe that alcohol loosens their social inhibitions.

  • Influence of family and peers - Teens are at greater risk for developing alcohol-related problems when alcohol is readily available at home or among their peer group, and if drunkenness is acceptable.

  • Gender - Men are more likely to drink heavily than women, but women become addicted at lower levels and shorter duration of use.

SOURCE: HelpGuide Resource for Resolving Health Challenges

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