Warning Signs

Most parents believe they would know if their child was drinking, but the majority of teens say their parents wouldn't catch them. It is important to be aware of the risks and to continuously monitor your teen.

One sign that your child is experimenting with alcohol, or considering doing so, could be a casual mention that one or more of your teen's friends are drinking. Or your child may say that his friend’s parents let their teen drink. These could be "trial balloons" to test your reaction to underage drinking. Other early signs of experimentation might include joking about alcohol advertisements or other alcohol-related scenes in TV shows or movies.

Signs to Watch For

Some of the signs of alcohol abuse below may be considered normal adolescent behavior, but a combination of changes could indicate a serious problem.

Personality or Behavior Changes

Physical Changes

Use of Other Substances

Excerpts adapted from "Make a Difference" National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "Keeping Your Kids Drug-Free" by the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the "National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse VI:Teens" February 2001, conducted by QEV Analytics and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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