Alcoholism Awareness Month
April is Alcoholism Awareness Month in the United States. It was established by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence to educate the general public about the dangers associated with alcohol and establish criteria for when to seek help from substance abuse.
Education about safer practices with alcohol should begin not when a youth turns twenty-one, but when they are a pre-teen and adolescent. According to National Today, “an estimated 414,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 have alcohol use disorder in the U.S.” Childhood and teenage alcoholism, while sharing many symptoms with adult alcoholism, can have devastating effects.
Issues Associated with Teenage Alcoholism
Issues of alcoholism in teens can include but are not limited to:
- BRAIN DEVELOPMENT: Alcohol interferes with a teen’s natural brain development.
- VULNERABILITY: Alcoholic impairment increases the likelihood of a teen being sexually or physically assaulted.
- RISKY BEHAVIOR: Alcohol dependence increases risky behavior, such as binge drinking.
- DEPENDENCY: Drinking alcohol regularly starting in childhood or as a teenager increases the risk of life-long alcoholism.
- LEGAL ISSUES: Underage drinking can cause legal issues for both the teen and adults that provide the alcohol.
Risk Factors of Teenage Alcoholism can include but is not limited to:
- FAMILY HISTORY: Family history of alcohol abuse increases the risk of a child or teen development alcoholism.
- PEER PRESSURE: Pressure from peers increases the risk of alcohol abuse.
- MEDICAL HISTORY: Childhood history of severe physical or mental illness can increase the risk of teenage alcoholism.
The Camino a Casa team can help address the issue of alcoholism as a co-occurring disorder, meaning the teen may have an alcohol/substance use problem, but their primary diagnosis is a mental health issue. While treatment at Camino a Casa primarily focuses on mental health issues such as self-harm and depression, we recognize the added difficulties associated with having co-occurring substance use disorders, and the toll that substance use can take on the mental health of our youth. For many teens and adolescents, alcohol use, abuse or misuse develops due to an underlying mental health issue as a form of coping.
Pathways to Recovery is a weekly group that is part of our Residential Treatment (RTC) and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) that helps youth understand their triggers for using substances and learn more adaptive coping strategies to use in place of substances. We engage the youth in experiential activities to facilitate discussion around triggers, stigma, relapse, and self-compassion. Our goal is to provide youth with a safe space to explore the reasons why they use substances, and to work toward being able to use more appropriate strategies to deal with their emotions.
For more information and resources on Ventura County substance abuse treatment for adolescents, please visit our page on this topic.
For more information about the Camino a Casa program, please visit www.caminoacasa.org.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-622-HELP (4357)
This is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.