Too many people believe that only certain people can become alcoholics and this simply is not true. Anyone can become an alcoholic at any time – there are no mandatory requirements. You do not have to be a certain age or drink a certain amount of alcohol each day. Alcoholism is not so much about how much you drink and how often, it is about what happens to you when you drink. If you find that you lose control when you drink, regardless of how old you are, you may want to evaluate your relationship with alcohol.
Teenagers often think that they are too young to have an addiction to alcohol and their parents buy into this. You think, “My child can’t possibly be an alcoholic, he’s only 15 years old!” But the truth is that alcoholism is a disease and it does not discriminate. Many people who have been in recovery from alcoholism for a long time would tell you that their disease began in their early teens. Some people believe that they were alcoholic from the first moment that they picked up a drink. And too often our believe that teenagers cannot possibly be alcoholics already prevents us from intervening and getting that teenager some help.
We develop stereotypical ideas of what an alcoholic is and what they should look like, but the reality is that alcoholism has many faces. There are many different types of alcoholics and it does not follow a set formula. An alcoholic does not necessarily drink every single day or drink in the morning. Some alcoholics are binge drinkers and they can go for months without touching alcohol and then – look out! Because we have preconceived ideas about what alcoholism is, we may convince ourselves that our teenagers are just going through a phase, and that might be true. But it also might be true that you are watching a teenager in the beginning stages of alcoholism.
Teenagers can become alcoholics in the same way that adults can and there is mounting evidence that alcoholism is a genetic illness that you either have or you don’t have. If your teenager seems to be drinking a lot, that is something that needs to be addressed anyway since it is against the law. But if your teenager seems to lose control when they have had a few drinks, if they are unable to stop drinking even when you threaten them with serious consequences, it may be time to seek some outside help.