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Drug Treatment Basics: Risk Factors for Alcohol Abuse

If you are looking for a drug treatment program with proven positive outcomes, consider investing in Ozarks Teen Challenge.

Alcohol is the leading drug of choice among the youth in the U.S. Underage drinking is an epidemic that has claimed the lives of an astounding number of adolescents through the years. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 5,000 people die each year as a result of underage drinking. This includes about 1,900 from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a result of homicides, 300 from suicide and hundreds from accidents as a result of impaired judgment and abilities (falling, drowning, burns).

Underage drinking is too often dismissed as a phase that is a sort of rite of passage. The problem with this “phase” is that, even if it doesn’t claim the life of your teen, it is likely to have serious implications later on. The age that teens start drinking has slowly gone down. In 1965, the average age of first alcohol use was 17.5 years of age. In 2003, it was revealed to be age 14.

Studies have also shown that those who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to meet the criteria for alcoholism at some point in their lives. What you may dismiss as light recreational drinking could turn into a full-blown problem that affects the course of your son’s life later on. Drug treatment through Ozarks Teen Challenge may be right for your son.

There are patterns and risk factors that affect your teen’s vulnerability to alcohol abuse:

Genetic Risk Factors

Children of alcoholics are much more likely to initiate drinking during adolescence, and they have much higher risk of becoming alcoholics themselves. If you’ve struggled with alcoholism, we don’t have to explain the weight of it to you. Just know the risk factor so that you can be proactive in getting your son drug treatment early on.


The way alcohol is presented to your teen will greatly affect his interest and involvement with alcohol. Your involvement level with your child and your relationship with alcohol will have an impact. It is ideal to have open conversations about it and discuss risks before it becomes an issue.


Studies have shown that adolescents who end up in drug treatment for alcohol report higher levels of physical abuse, sexual abuse, violent victimization, witnessing violence and other trauma in their past than those who don’t. They were six times more likely to have been abused physically and 18 times more likely to have been abused sexually. Early trauma dramatically increases vulnerability to alcoholism.

Psychiatric Disorders

The relationship between alcohol and psychiatric disorders is unclear. It isn’t definite whether anxiety and depression are more likely to be the cause or consequence of alcohol abuse, but there is a connection. One study of college freshmen revealed that a diagnosis of alcohol abuse was twice as likely in those with anxiety disorder and four times as likely in those with depression (depression more commonly preceded alcohol abuse). ADHD is another common disorder that has been linked with alcohol abuse.

Suicidal Thoughts and Behavior

Alcohol abuse is significantly higher among those who have considered, planned, attempted or even completed suicide. It’s unclear whether or not drinking causes this behavior or vice versa, but we do know that the two are correlated.

These risk factors are not comprehensive. Your teen may express interest in alcohol even if none of these apply. The possible consequences of underage drinking are numerous; it is extremely dangerous and should be taken seriously. Ozarks Teen Challenge is here to provide effective drug treatment that will keep your teen from getting so deep into alcohol abuse that it progresses to alcoholism. Our drug treatment program will give your teen the tools he needs to break away from alcohol abuse and get back on track with the bright future in store for him.

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