Alcohol abuse often begins in the teenage years and leads to full blown addiction in some. While it is obvious that all users of alcohol do not become addicted to it, chances of developing an addiction are very high for teens who start using alcohol before the age of 15 years.
The alcohol addiction process can be divided into three stages: experimentation, regular use and dependence. The stages are continuous and the transition from one stage to the other is spontaneous.
Stages of alcohol addiction
The different stages of alcohol addiction are:
The experimentation with alcohol usually begins in one’s teenage years. Teenagers use drugs for the same reasons adults do: to feel good or to relax. Additionally, teens may have other reasons such as curiosity, need to be accepted by the peer group or rebellion against authority mostly parents. Whatever the reasons, parents or guardians should recognize the problem and intervene as soon as they come to know about it.
Often teenagers start by abusing substances such as cigarettes and alcohol. Many parents do not intervene at that time because they think that at least the child is not abusing drugs. However, research shows that alcohol or cigarettes are only the beginning and it may lead to addiction to other drugs if they are not stopped in the early stages.
The majority of young alcohol users do not progress to regular use, however, researchers have noticed that if alcohol use begins at an early stage of teenage years, it may quickly progress to the next stage of the addiction process. The factors that may influence the teen to carry on the habit include drinking alcohol alone and not with the peer group, and having untreated behavioral or mental illnesses.
In this stage, teens often look for opportunities to drink alcohol. They may plan ahead to drink alcohol with the peer group or even alone. They may also develop tolerance and need more and more of alcohol to get the desired effect.
The first symptoms of regular alcohol abuse can be found in school reports. The teenagers’ grades may suddenly fall or the absence from school may suddenly increase. In this stage, the teens may start giving up activities that they love to create time to drink. They may also get into conflicts with their siblings or parents or even with the law.
The regular use of alcohol often leads to addiction. This is the best time to intervene because once addiction develops, only medical treatment may be able to cure it.
This stage is characterized by compromising with family and friends to be able to use the substance. Dependence can be physical, psychological or both. Increased tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when alcohol use is suddenly stopped may be evident at this stage.
There may be a sudden change in the appearance of the teen. He/she may start neglecting how they dress or not maintain the hygiene levels. Moreover, the teen may get into financial obligations due to the continuous expenditure on alcohol and may start stealing to meet his/ her alcohol needs. Lying about alcohol use and getting isolated from friends and family are common. Sometimes, the teen may stop using alcohol for two-three weeks to create an impression that his alcohol abuse is under control, even though it may not be so.
Treatment is often hardest for those who develop dependence and it may need dedicated facilities and customized services. Whatever the issue, substance addiction is a disease that needs immediate treatment.
Seek help to curb alcohol addiction
Many teens who become addicted to alcohol feel increasingly hopeless as the situation worsens. But it does not have to be like this. Alcohol addiction treatment in Florida is available and it can really help.
If you or any teen you know is addicted to alcohol, have a chat with the Florida Alcohol Addiction Helpline representatives. They can tell you about the best alcohol addiction rehab centers in Florida. You can also dial our 24/7 alcohol addiction helpline at 866-220-5381 for immediate help for near or dear ones.