Partying is a potential danger for teens throughout high school and early college. Despite the legal drinking age being 21 across the United States, it is not uncommon for teens to view parties as a rite of passage of sorts once they enter high school. College-age teens may choose to party as they experiment with the newfound freedoms that come with leaving home and forging a path outside of parental rules and restrictions. Both scenarios often lead teens to begin experimenting with alcohol or engaging in heavy or binge drinking far earlier than 21 years of age.
Data from recent studies indicate rates of alcohol abuse among teens are declining; however, problematic drinking among teens has not fallen to the point where concern among parents and guardians is unwarranted. Social interaction and peer interaction are vital components of teen growth. That said, it is inevitable that most teens are exposed to or potentially exposed to alcohol and the temptation that comes with drinking at teen parties.
A study conducted in 2019 looked at the drinking patterns among teens between ages 12 and 20. Data from that report suggested nearly 20% of teens reported drinking an alcoholic beverage in the previous 30 days. Overall, data from the report shows more than 7 million youth classified as teens are at risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.
There are many ways teens obtain and consume alcohol. Traditional means include finding someone else who is of age to buy alcohol or supply alcohol for a party. Some teens may help themselves to their parent’s liquor cabinet to provide alcohol to friends. Regardless of the methods used to get alcohol to a party, teen drinking is dangerous for both teens and their parents or guardian.
Why Do Teens Drink?
Teens drink at parties for many reasons. Perhaps the most common is peer pressure. Teens see adults and others participating in various activities. This includes drinking. When they see their parents, guardians, or friends drinking, it leads to curiosity. It is not uncommon for peers to encourage or entice others to try things like alcohol or drugs, and because they want to “fit in” with their peers, they will go along with what others do. In other cases, teens may begin using alcohol because “it is there,” and they see others enjoying the experience of consuming it. Because they see it as part of the “teen experience,” they don’t see the harm in drinking.
Teens may also turn to alcohol and partying to self-medicate or escape painful emotions. If your teen struggles with a mental health condition and is frequently unhappy, alcohol or partying with friends may help alleviate those emotions- at least in their eyes. Depending on the amount they drink, the painful symptoms they struggle with may disappear entirely. While they are at a party and interacting with friends, their inhibitions, worries, and concerns are gone. Unfortunately, using alcohol to escape emotional difficulties starts many teens on a dangerous path.
Before long, your teen may find that they need to drink to feel ok. As a result, the drinking they used to do at a party (to fit in or feel good) is no longer enough to achieve their desired feelings. In time, they may begin drinking more often and at places other than a party. They may start stealing alcohol from their parents or try other substances in an effort to dull their emotions. They may also skip school or forego necessary obligations such as work in favor of drinking. All of these changes to your teen’s “normal” behavior are indications of a potential alcohol use disorder. If you are concerned about your teen, it is essential to seek help at a teen treatment center like Beachside. We can help your teen learn more about the risks of using alcohol to self-medicate while offering safer, healthier ways to cope with mental health symptoms.
Boredom and rebellion are more reasons teens may drink at parties. It is not uncommon for parents and guardians to talk about the negative impacts that might result from teen drinking. Unfortunately for some teens, the potential negative repercussions associated with parties and drinking become exciting. Getting intoxicated and taking risks associated with underage drinking parties becomes a way to anger their parents or prove they are “cool” to other peers. Teen drinking parties are also a way to interact with others who share the same (although potentially dangerous) mindset.
The Dangers of Teen Drinking Parties
The effects of teen drinking, especially frequent heavy drinking or binge drinking, are many. Depending on the teen and how much they drink, the effects of drinking at a party may be immediate or develop out of a pattern of chronic behavior. Information from the National Institutes of Health indicates that 70% of teens who begin drinking at an early age engage in frequent, heavy drinking by the age of 19.
However, it is essential to note that teens do not need to drink heavily to suffer from the immediate consequences of drinking at a party. Teen bodies are smaller than adults, and therefore, far less alcohol is required to reach a blood alcohol content (BAC) level that would cause impairment. Thus, the crash risk associated with drinking and driving is far higher for teens and young adults than for adults of legal drinking age. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 24% of teen drivers (ages 15-20) who died in motor vehicle accidents in 2019 had been drinking. Additionally, 15% of teen drivers involved in fatal accidents had a BAC of 0.08% or higher. While there is no clear statistic that links teen driving fatalities to teen parties, it is not out of the question to connect the two.
In addition to the worse consequence of all, death, other negative impacts can result from teen drinking parties. These may include addiction, engaging in risky or dangerous behaviors, sexual assault, physical assault, increased risk for other mental health disorders, increased risk of teen suicide, and significant legal repercussions linked to underage drinking.
Potential Consequences of Teen Partying for Parents
Parents generally understand the potential dangers linked to teen partying and drinking. Many parents also understand there is a significant likelihood that teens drink at parties, despite all parents say and do to try and steer their child in a “safe” direction. What many parents may not understand is how teen partying can impact parents.
First, teen drinking can lead to legal and financial troubles for the entire family. Each state has specific rules regarding parental responsibility for underage drinking, and some states impose hefty punishments on parents whose children engage in underage drinking. This applies even in situations where you may not know your alcohol is provided. For example, suppose you are away, and your teen hosts a party where alcohol is supplied and consumed. In that case, you can be held liable for the party and all impacts related to the party, even if you are entirely unaware of the events occurring at your home. Should an accident or other incident occur related to an underage drinking party at your home, law enforcement and the legal system may hold you financially and criminally liable to the victims.
Get Help for Your Teen At Beachside
Alcohol addiction or an alcohol use disorder can develop from early experimentation with alcohol. Although many teens see drinking at a party as experimentation or “harmless fun,” many do not realize the wide-reaching harm underage drinking causes. Outside of permanent injury and loss of life, long-term misuse of alcohol leads to dependency and addiction.
Abusing alcohol is often more than experimentation. When someone struggles with a dependency on alcohol, and they drink frequently, it leads to changes in the brain. These changes cause your teen to crave and need alcohol to function each day. Alcohol addiction or an alcohol use disorder is a mental health condition. If your teen is unable to stop engaging in harmful drinking or destructive behaviors related to alcohol, it is essential to seek help at a treatment center like Beachside. As part of treatment, we will help them manage detox and withdrawal symptoms so they can begin their journey towards overcoming alcohol addiction. A therapy program designed around their unique needs will help them learn more about engaging with peers and other daily interactions without alcohol.
Teen drinking parties are dangerous for your teen and for you. Even if your teen is not hosting parties in your home, there are many consequences that can arise from your teen attending a party, especially without parental supervision or a party where alcohol is served. It is essential to communicate with your teen so they can understand all of the potential risks.
It is important to note that not all teen parties lead to drinking, drug use, and other challenges. Many teens and college students alike attend get-togethers and parties without issues of any kind. However, it is crucial to understand the possible consequences (medical, emotional, and legal) of underage teen parties. While it is true that attending a teen party is not a direct link to the development of an alcohol use or drug use disorder, many teen parties do increase the risk for exposure to alcohol and other substances your teen may not have access to under different circumstances.
If you’re worried about your teen, it is important to talk with them about the possible effects of alcohol use among teens. If you are unsure of where to start, let a professional at Beachside help. Contact us today to learn more about our teen-focused treatment programs and how you can break the ice with your teen about this potentially life-changing topic.