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Teenage Drinking: Why It Happens and the Risks it Creates

We can help with alcohol abuse problems.

There isn’t a single reason why teenagers use drugs or alcohol, but there are some common core influences behind the behavior. As a parent, you need to understand the reasons why your daughter is abusing alcohol so you can talk to her and find help.

  1. Other people: Teenagers see other people consuming various substances all the time, whether it’s parents, family members, other adults, or peers drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and trying other substances. It’s common for teens to start using alcohol because they see other people enjoying it and consider part of the normal teen experience.
  2. Media: Music and movies make drinking and smoking marijuana seem cool. You need to be aware of the influence certain media has on your teenage daughter.
  3. Self-medication: When teenage girls are unhappy and can’t find a way to express frustration, they might turn to alcohol for comfort. It might help them feel blissfully oblivious, happy, energized or confident. The teenage years can take a serious toll on some girls, so when they find a way to feel better, the temptation is irresistible.
  4. Boredom: Teens who don’t like being alone, have trouble staying busy or constantly crave excitement are susceptible to alcohol abuse. It gives them something to do and helps fill an internal void. It also offers a way to bond with other teenagers.
  5. Rebellion: Wanting to rebel against parents and rules is normal for teenagers, but it can become dangerous when alcohol is involved. Underage drinking might give your teenage daughter a rush because she knows it’s not only against your rules, but against the law.

The Risks of Early Alcohol Use

Teenage girls who drink before age 21 are more likely to:

  • Use heavy drinking to escape problems or cope with frustration and anger
  • Drink because of family problems
  • Delay their puberty, as abusing alcohol causes endocrine disorders
  • Have unprotected sex or be sexually abused, putting them at risk for trauma, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases
  • Be involved in a fatal automobile crash
  • Experience lasting impairment in brain functions like memory, coordination and motor skills
  • Attempt suicide
  • Be involved in violent, dangerous behaviors
  • Develop alcoholism later in life

How We Can Help

If alcohol abuse has become a problem in your daughter’s life and you feel worried about her well-being, we can help. The CERTS Group is a family of specialized residential treatment centers and boarding schools for adolescent girls who are struggling with alcohol abuse, emotional issues, eating disorders, drug abuse and other problems. Our programs have a structure based upon Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) while combining traditional talk therapy with experiential therapies (equine assisted psychotherapy, art therapy, adventure therapy, music therapy, etc.) to achieve a resilient, more influential change. Contact us to learn more.

Addressing Your Teenager Daughter’s Adoption Issues

It’s normal for children to be extremely curious about their adoption stories. When they are young, they will question the circumstances that led to adoption but calmly accept the answers. However, adolescents will usually demand fuller, more factual answers. As a more sophisticated critical thinker, an adolescent might start to wonder why their birth parents gave them up. Was there something wrong with them? Are they unlovable? These feelings can cause even more stress and confusion during a time of life that is already difficult.

Here are some common adoption-related questions your teenage daughter might have:

Why Was I Adopted?

Adopted teens are full of questions like “Why was I given away? Was there something wrong with me? Did they abuse me? Why couldn’t they take care of me?” One of the biggest challenges for adoptive parents is explaining their child’s adoption story. Parents often want to hide the information that is difficult for their child to hear. While it makes perfect sense to want to protect your child from heartache, it’s important that they know the truth during this developmental stage. Sometimes you don’t know the real reason that led the birth parents to give up their child. If this is the case, tell your teen that and you can speculate on the reasons together.

What is the True Story About my Birth Parents?

Young children may be comfortable living with broad, general ideas about their birth parents, but adolescents want the detailed facts. They want to know why and how they were put up for adoption. As a parent, you might be nervous to share information that could be upsetting. But you must understand that when there is a void, teens will start to create their own ideas about their birth parents. These fantasies are often more damaging to their identity than the actual facts. In most cases, the truth will be freeing for your teen. There is no perfect time for sharing difficult information with your daughter. Her temperament and emotional and intellectual maturity will determine when it’s time to process upsetting information. As an adolescent, your daughter has a new cognitive capacity to process information and consider facts and emotions.

Why Do I Feel Like an Outcast?

For most adolescents, whether they’re adopted or not, feeling like an outcast is the worst possible curse. Being adopted can make this sense of feeling “different” and “strange” even more extreme. Adoptees may be of a different race or from another cultural background than their adoptive family, and seeing peers who are raised in biologically related families can make them feel even more different. For these teens, finding a sense of belonging can be extremely difficult. It’s important to address these feelings of being different with your daughter. If she is a different race than you, you need to ask her if she’s been treated unkindly at school because of how she looks. It’s essential to make sure that your teen never feels alone in these trials.

How We Help at the CERTS Group

If adoption issues are causing behavioral and emotional problems in your teenage daughter, the CERTS Group can help. The CERTS Group is a family of specialized residential treatment centers and boarding schools for adolescent girls who are struggling with emotional issues, eating disorders, drug abuse and other problems. Our programs have a structure based upon Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) while combining traditional talk therapy with experiential therapies (equine assisted psychotherapy, art therapy, adventure therapy, music therapy, etc.) to achieve a resilient, more influential change.

Signs of Eating Disorders in Teenage Girls

Many teenage girls struggle with eating disorders.

Anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and compulsive overeating are the most common eating disorders developed by adolescent girls. If you are a parent and you’re concerned that your daughter has an eating disorder, we know how frightened you must feel. Eating disorders are serious psychological illnesses that can cause devastating health problems. Fortunately, eating disorders are all extremely treatable, especially when they’re caught early on.

The following signs are typical of an adolescent with an eating disorder:

  • Eating secretly
  • Preoccupation with food
  • Calorie counting
  • Fear of becoming fat
  • Binge eating
  • Purging
  • Food phobias or avoidance

Why Do Eating Disorders Happen?

There are various triggers for eating disorders, ranging from genetics, psychology and biochemistry, to external reasons like low self-esteem and culture. Teenage girls live in a culture that over-emphasizes appearance and connect thinness with happiness. They are also huge consumers of a fat-phobic media that promotes unrealistic body types. If your daughter is also a perfectionist, has self-esteem issues, trouble coping with emotions, anxiety, depression or tends to act impulsively, these can all be contributing factors to the development of an eating disorder.

Common Eating Disorders and Their Warning Signs

Anorexia Nervosa

  • Perfectionism, an obsession with control and a display of compulsive habits
  • Skipping meals, eating tiny portions, won’t eat in front of others, eats in ritualistic ways, chews food but spits it out before swallowing and creates strange food combinations
  • Always has an excuse not to eat
  • Becomes disgusted with formerly favorite foods
  • Only eats “safe” foods
  • Boasts about healthy diet
  • Claims to be “vegetarian” but will not eat necessary nutrients required by vegetarianism
  • Drastically reduces fat intake and reads food labels obsessively
  • Obsession with exercise and checking weight
  • Might abuse drugs or alcohol
  • Consistent self-criticism, use of the word “fat”
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Always wears baggy clothing

Bulimia Nervosa

  • Impulsive, volatile and risky behavior
  • Vomits after breaking the self-imposed rigid eating rules
  • Abuses laxatives, diet pills or water pills
  • Obsessively uses natural products from health food stores to promote weight loss
  • Might abuse drugs or alcohol
  • Leaves behind clues of purging like foul smelling bathrooms, running water to cover up vomiting sounds and excessively uses mouthwash and mints
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Hypertensive [(high blood pressure)
  • A sore throat, dental erosions, esophagitis and electrolyte imbalance all due to vomiting

Binge eating warning signs:

  • Sets restrictive diet rules and then binges when hungry
  • Eats in secret
  • Buys special food for binging
  • Eating rapidly
  • Eating when not hungry
  • Feelings of guilt related to overeating
  • Depression or mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Hiding food in strange places
  • Fatigue

How Eating Disorders are Treated

Eating disorders require a comprehensive, thorough treatment program in order to combat the illness before significant medical issues arise. Medical consequences of an eating disorder include damage to the brain, heart, bones, kidneys, reproductive system and liver. The CERTS Group is a certified residential treatment center for adolescent girls who are struggling with eating disorders, drug abuse and other problems. “Our programs have a structure based upon Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), while blending traditional talk therapy with experiential therapies (equine assisted psychotherapy, art therapy, adventure therapy, music therapy, etc.) to achieve a longer lasting, more powerful change.”