Though recent studies have suggested teen drinking is on the decline, this information is not enough for some parents and school officials. In January, one New Jersey high school, following in the footsteps of another school in the same state, instituted a policy that administrators hope will make teens think twice before drinking alcohol. Pequannock Township High approved a policy where all 800 students would be subject to a random urine test come Monday mornings.
While the ethics of such tests remain questionable to some, the larger issue at hand is the apparent continuing concern of parents and administrators with respect to teenagers and drinking.
Parents need not rely on Monday morning urine tests, however, to determine whether or not their child is abusing or experimenting with alcohol. Several indicators can give a parent a good idea as to a childâ€™s experience with alcohol.
Physical warning signs: As the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) points out, teenagers exhibit many of the same signs of alcohol abuse as adults. Most notably, teens get hangovers, too.
- Emotional warning signs: Sudden mood swings, often characterized by irritability, and indifference toward previous interests are common among teenage alcohol abusers as well.
- Familial warning signs: Teenagers abusing alcohol typically withdraw from their families, and may be prone to starting arguments as well. With most teenagers, however, these are normal issues and do not necessarily indicate alcohol abuse. Such a fine line means parents need to be careful when discussing such problems with their child.
- Social warning signs: Changes in wardrobe and other interests, typically when such changes move toward more unconventional styles, can be indicative of both drug or alcohol abuse. Again, this is a fine line, as these behaviors could also have nothing to do with drug or alcohol abuse, and might just be part of growing up.
- Academic warning signs: While a sudden drop in grades might be harder to notice right away since report cards are not sent out on a weekly basis, other academic problems, such as frequent absences or truancy or even disciplinary issues that never used to arise, are common among teens who abuse alcohol.
Exactly what action to take is up to parents. AACAP recommends seeking the advice of a physician and ruling out the physical causes first. Just
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