Alcohol addiction is a growing problem in our society today. Underage drinking has become a serious and widespread issue in virtually every demographic, and it too often leads young girls into situations with severe consequences. The average American girl takes her first drink by age 13. In fact, young women who drink are more likely to be the victims of violent crimes, to be involved in alcohol-related traffic accidents and to have depression and anxiety. Fortunately, help is within reach. Recognizing the unique risk factors for your teenager is an important first step.
Teens Have Greater Vulnerability than Adults
Recent studies have shown that brain function in children and teens differs from that of adult brains. In fact, the results showed that the areas responsible for functions like decision making, judgment and impulse control are often not fully developed until adulthood. This leaves teens vulnerable to partaking in situations that can have a lasting impact on their lives. Teens who abuse alcohol at an early age are at a greater risk for developing an addiction later in life, when compared with those who misuse alcohol and drugs later.
Risk Factors for Alcoholism
Several factors can affect the degree of risk for alcoholism in your teenage daughter. The first is family history. If your family has a history of alcohol abuse, your teenager also has a higher risk of abusing alcohol. A second risk factor is experimentation. The use of alcohol increases the risk of becoming an alcoholic. That means that simply exposing oneself to alcohol increases the risk of developing a problem, and children tend to experiment as a way of carving out an identity. Peer pressure also plays a role in this, because if your child’s peers use alcohol, then your child is much more likely to use it too. This factor is especially true of girls, who often feel more pressure to fit in. Mental illness is yet another risk factor. If your child has a psychiatric disorder like depression or anxiety, this can affect her developing brain functions.
Special Challenges for Girls and Young Women
Girls face special challenges when it comes to alcohol use. Among heavy teenage drinkers, girls are more likely to say that they drink to escape problems or cope with frustration and anger. Girls are also more likely to drink because of family problems than peer pressure, and they are also more likely to have unprotected sex than girls who don’t drink, putting them at increased risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Parents must be aware of the risks associated with their daughters and underage drinking. If you suspect that your daughter may have a problem with alcohol, contact Havenwood Academy today. Their residential treatment programs and experienced staff can help to guide you and your family to a healthier tomorrow, free of alcohol addiction and its associated problems.