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Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at
(847) 498-5611.

Recover from chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.

What Every Parent Should Know About the Risks of Teens Who Drink and Drug

Dear Dr. Steve:

If my husband tells me one more time that “boys will be boys,” I’m going to scream! My fifteen-year old son is drinking. Although I can’t prove it, there’s little doubt in my mind. Six weeks ago we had a party so I restocked the bar. I’m almost positive that there’s a case of beer and a bottle of vodka unaccounted for. Last week, while doing yard work in the backyard, I found empty beer bottles discarded in the bushes. In thinking about this, I realized that my son has become much more evasive, almost secretive about where he goes and with whom he goes. Where once he was punctual and dependable, lately his behavior has become erratic—sleeping later than usual, staying out later than he’s supposed to, skipping classes at school.  Last night he came home an hour late. When I questioned him, he seemed to be slurring his words and I thought I could smell alcohol on his breath despite the cinnamon gum he was chewing. Whenever I express my suspicions to his father, all I get is a proud smirk, a litany of his own war stories from when my husband was fifteen, and the almost boastful assertion that “boys will be boys.” Well, I don’t buy it. I think it’s dangerous and I don’t want to hear anymore about what boys do. Can you give me some information that might persuade my husband to take this matter more seriously than he currently is?

You have every reason to be concerned. Your son is involved in risky behavior that may have serious consequences. For young people, alcohol is the number one drug of choice. In fact, teens use alcohol more frequently and heavily than all other illicit drugs combined. Although most children age 10-14 have not yet begun to drink, early adolescence is a time of special risk for beginning to experiment with alcohol.

A $12-million study by NIAAA offers scientific validation that young people who began drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who began drinking at age 21. More than 40 percent of respondents who began drinking before age 15 were classified with alcohol dependence at some time in their lives compared with 24.5 percent for respondents who began drinking at age 17 and about 10 percent for those who began drinking at age 21 and 22. The study also found that the risk of developing alcohol abuse (a maladaptive drinking pattern that repeatedly causes life problems) more than doubled for persons who began drinking before age 15 compared with those who began drinking at age 21. The study, which sampled 43,000 people, documents that the risk for alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse decreases steadily and significantly with each increasing year of age of drinking onset.

While some parents may feel relieved that their teen is only drinking, it’s important to remember that alcohol is a powerful mood-altering drug. Not only does alcohol affect the mind and body in often unpredictable ways, but teens lack the judgment and coping skills to handle alcohol wisely. As a result:

1.) Alcohol-related traffic accidents are a major cause of death and disability among teens. Alcohol use also is linked with youthful deaths followed by drowning, fire, suicide, and homicide.

2.) Teens who use alcohol are more likely to become sexually active at earlier ages, to have sexual intercourse more often, and to have unprotected sex than teens who do not drink.
3.) Young people who drink are more likely than others to be victims of violent crime, including rape, aggravated assault, and robbery.

4.) Teens who drink are more likely to have problems with school work and school conduct.

5.) An individual who begins drinking as a young teen is four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than someone who waits until adulthood to use alcohol.

Your husband needs to understand that your son’s alcohol use is very risky. The longer an adolescent delays alcohol use, the less likely they are to develop any problems associated with alcohol use.

Recover from chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series—From Insanity to Serenity.

Pathfinder’s Checklist
1.) Read Dr. Steve Frisch’s, Psy.D. series of Recovery books, From Insanity to Serenity. These books focus on chemical dependency, how to raise alcohol and other drugs free children, and Recovery for both the chemically dependent individual and their friends and family members.

2.) Read Fact Sheets about How to Raise an Alcohol and Drug-Free Child
3.) Read Fact Sheets about Information About Alcohol and Other Drugs
4.) Read the Fact Sheet, Referrals
5.) Read Fact Sheet, Warning Signs of Alcohol and Other Drugs Abuse
6.) Read Entering the World of Your Child: How to Nurture Your Child’s Spirit by Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.
7.) Read A Parent’s Guide for Protecting Their Children From Alcohol and Other Drugs by Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.
8.) Read But I’m Not The One With the Problem: How to Cope With a Loved One Who Abuses Alcohol and Other Drugs, by Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.



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