Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

Early Drinking’s Impact on Alcohol Abuse

Though many parents seem to believe that allowing their children to “experiment” with drugs and alcohol is not only safe but also normal, the research is steadily piling up that proves that thought wrong. Why? Here are just a few facts:

  • It just takes one time. One night of unprotected sex can create a lifelong commitment. One overdose can cause brain damage or be deadly. One wrong move behind the wheel while under the influence can be life-altering—or life-ending. All of these issues are possible risks without drugs and alcohol but increase exponentially when a teen makes important decisions while under the influence.
  • The teen brain is under construction. The human is brain is continually developing up until about the age of 25. Drug and alcohol use stunt and alter that process.
  • Early use can lead to lifelong addiction. Studies show that the earlier a teen first uses drugs or alcohol, the more likely it is that they will develop an addiction that will follow them throughout their lifetime—including the study highlighted below.

New Study Explores Experimental Drinking Among Teens

A study entitled “Impact of Pubertal Stage at First Drink on Adult Drinking Behavior” conducted by the Research Society on Alcoholism illustrates the dangers of experimental drinking in youth. This study followed both human teenagers and rats from their youth. In both categories, the younger the subject began to drink, the more he or she drank on an average day.

Miriam Schneider was lead researcher on the study. Says Schneider, “Puberty is a very critical developmental period due to ongoing neurodevelopmental processes in the brain. It is exactly during puberty that substances like drugs of abuse—alcohol, cannabis, etc.—may induce the most destructive and also persistent effects on the still developing brain, which may in some cases even result in neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia or addictive disorders.”

Setting Clear Limits and Consequences

If you are concerned about the effects of early drinking on your son, the best thing you can do for him is to set clear boundaries in your home—and follow through on the agreed-upon consequences. This means outlining in no uncertain terms that drug and alcohol abuse of any kind will not be allowed and then dictating what the consequence for that offense will be. Should your son break the rules, follow through on those consequences and if he continues to drink or get high, it’s time to take further action.

Learn more about how you can help your son stop drinking and using drugs when you contact us at Muir Wood today. We are standing by to assist you.