How To Tell if Your Child Has a Drinking Problem

Get Your Head Out of the Sand and Pay Attention

Alcoholic teen

Plaguing many parents is the issue of teen drinking. We all know that underage drinking is illegal, but we also know that teens do it all the time. There are always unscrupulous store owners who will sell to minors and, as parents, we need to be vigilant to the signs that our child is drinking.

Sometimes the signs are obvious:

  1. Your child comes home drunk, not just once, but several times.
  2. Your child comes home with red-eyes and smells of old alcohol. This gives away many kids because they don’t realize how the alcohol smell tends to seep out of the pores the next day.
  3. You overhear your child and friends talking about getting drunk and how cool it is.
  4. This can also be caught on email, texting, and sites like MySpace. Always do spot checks on these even if you are positive that your child is not doing it.
  5. You observe that your child’s friends look or smell of alcohol. If they are doing it, it is a good bet your little sweetie is also.
  6. You notice that your liquor bottles seem to be getting empty faster than you would expect. It is a good idea to mark your bottles.

The subtle signs are harder to spot. Many kids today are very skilled at hiding those things about themselves that they do not want you to know.

So be alert for the following:

  1. Sleepovers. Your child spends the night away from home frequently, but rarely or never invites someone to stay at
    your house. When spending the night with friends, she always comes home mid-late afternoon and make excuses consistently about why she cannot come home earlier in the day.
  2. Lack of supervision. You know that the parent where your child is staying will not be home for at least some of the evening.
  3. Your child is less communicative with you. This is a natural part of the teen years, but sometimes it is beyond what you would expect.
  4. Tone of the communication. You are given vague answers or defensiveness when you inquire about what he did while away.
  5. Attempts to mask signs of drinking. Your child suddenly seems to be chewing gum more often as he comes home from a friend’s house. Maybe your child wears perfume or cologne when returning home.
  6. Pay attention to your instinct. If you feel things are not quite right, they probably are not.

Most important, don’t deny that it is possible for your child to have a drinking problem. If she does, the earlier you intervene, the more likely you can prevent serious consequences for your child.

Pat Montgomery

Host of Parents Rule! Radio Show every Thursday 2-3 pm EST at


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