While many individuals across their life span are affected by alcohol addiction, adolescents and teenagers are significantly impacted by this substance abuse disorder. Alcohol use disorders result in significant physical, social, economic and global complications. In 2013, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated that almost 700,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 had a form of alcohol abuse disorder. The consequences of underage drinking are tragic, with approximately 5,000 people under age 21 dying each year from alcohol-related causes.
Underage drinking can result in serious bodily injuries, brain development problems, impaired judgment and an increased risk for physical and/or sexual assault. Many teens who engage in underage drinking are more likely to have trouble in school or with the law, become alcohol dependent, and have an increased risk of abusing other drugs.
Research provides prevention strategies
With so much at stake for younger generations, developing effective strategies for detection and treatment is necessary to prevent alcohol abuse among adolescents and teenagers. While the prevention of underage drinking can present as a complex challenge, integrating research-based approaches and interventions can make efforts successful.
Interventions should be applied on multiple levels, starting from the individual to the family, within schools and through the environment. Newer research gathered in this area helps increase the effectiveness of current strategies and interventions. As risk factors are better understood, prevention strategies can be applied more effectually.
The connection between social phobia and alcohol abuse
Current research presented at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) Conference in 2015 unfolded the possible connection between alcohol abuse and social phobia. Researchers have found that children who had more symptoms of social phobia at age 11 were more inclined to turn to alcohol at earlier ages compared to their peers who were without symptoms of social phobia.
“Social phobia seems to be a risk factor for alcohol use in kids, but it’s not just social phobia at one point during childhood, it’s the escalation in symptoms of social phobia over time that seems to predict alcohol use later in adolescence,” Jennifer Dahne, Ph.D. student and lead researcher from the University of Maryland in College Park, told Medscape Medical News.
Researchers gathered data from a longitudinal study that followed a sample of 277 children for 5 years. At the onset of the study, children were 11 years of age, half of whom were female and half male. To determine social phobia symptoms among participants, children were given a variety of tests, including the social anxiety subscale from the Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale.
Understanding these connections among children can provide important insight for identifying risk factors for alcohol abuse. While this might be only one piece of the puzzle, understanding what risk factors are associated with substance abuse disorders can be key to early prevention among adolescents and teenagers.
Finding help and treatment
If you or a loved one is struggling with social phobia and an alcohol use disorder, it is important to know that recovery is possible. Having professional assistance can be the key to intervening and overcoming dangerous behaviors. A treatment team that specializes in dual diagnosis can provide the needed support to recover and heal.
Sovereign Health Treatment Centers offer holistic care and dual diagnosis treatment for individuals seeking help and recovery from alcohol abuse and drug addiction. From alcohol detoxification to brain wellness programs, Sovereign Health Treatment Centers can connect you or a loved one with the resources you need to overcome an addiction to alcohol. Call today for a free confidential assessment at 866-629-0442 or chat live 24/7.
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