Parents need awareness of teen drinking dangers

Wes Orr Adolescent Substance Abuse Counseling Service

With summer around the corner, a time of increased drinking opportunities is approaching for teenagers. While many of the experimental behaviors teenagers get involved with are part of a passing phase, alcohol and or other drug usage is not one to be taken lightly.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines binge drinking as, “three or four drinks per occasion or seven or 14 drinks or more per week.” The lesser amounts are for women, the greater amounts for men, due to differences in metabolism.
Many people feel that thee or four drinks at a time does not constitute problematic drinking.
However, an adolescent’s brain and body are more susceptible to harm than an adult when comparing binge drinking in both groups.
An adolescent’s brain is still forming and is thereby susceptible to greater harm. Adolescents’ brains are not fully formed until their 20s.
Binge drinking, therefore, can and does, affect sleep, learning new information, memory and processing abilities.
Also, the higher the volume of drinking, the more danger a child has of alcohol poisoning, drunk driving, acquiring a sexually transmitted disease or the formation of substance dependence.
In the U.S., the drinking age is 21 years of age in all states. In a military environment, it is not legal to drink any form of alcohol and be less than 18 years of age.
For those in Europe there are some differences. In Germany, drinking beer is legal at the age of 16. To drink hard liquor a person must be 18.
There is a lot of high-volume drinking going on in local German drinking establishments and in many instances no responsible adult is monitoring. Also, the drinking age for liquor and beer is not strictly enforced in many locations.
Teenagers, in general, are at a sensitive time in their development where they try many new things and explore their sexuality.
This is also a time where impulsive and poor behavioral choices are common. This effect is dramatically altered when alcohol, marijuana or other drugs are introduced into the mix.
To effectively monitor a teen’s situation, parents needs to ask their teen if they drink, when and how much.
If they suspects problem drinking, the Adolescent Substance Abuse Counseling Service program (in the KMC schools) is well equipped to confidentially assess or provide outpatient treatment to kids who are having alcohol or other drug related problems. ASACS offers a year round program which is also available in the summer.
If teens are having problems in school including tardies, absences, poor grades, drinking at school or associating with those that do, it may be a sign of substance abuse.
If parents are not sure, suspect problems or do not know how to handle teen drinking, they can call the ASACS program at Ramstein or Kaiserslautern American High School for a confidential discussion and possible referral of their child.
If parents or teens have more questions, they call ASACS at RAHS at 480-4648 or 06371-47-4648, or at KAHS at 489-7453 or 0631-536-7453.