By Jackie James

Alcohol consumption, a totally acceptable social norm. People drink alcohol for many reasons, but it’s sometimes a blurred line between ‘casual consumption’ and ‘problematic drinking’. Many teens take up drinking and then find themselves hooked. How do you know if you have a problem with alcohol and where can you turn if you do?

You may have started drinking alcohol to “relax” or because you like the taste, or to fit in with the crowd or even just for the “buzz”. Regardless of why you drink, and the legalities surrounding that choice, please note that there aren’t any judgments being made here; just information and assistance, if necessary. Many teens believe they can handle their liquor and that an actual alcoholic is someone who is completely out of control when they drink. There are, however, several signs used to gauge whether you have an issue with alcohol, including:

a. Blackouts. If you drink to the point you can’t remember what you’ve done, not only is this an indication that you’ve had too much to drink, but you are also leaving yourself vulnerable to other people who may not have your best interest at heart. Girls become victims of sexual assault, revenge porn, and may seemingly participate in activities they normally would not when they get blackout drunk.b.

b. Solitary Drinking. If you’re drinking while you’re alone, you may feel like you need alcohol to cope with everyday issues. Alcoholics generally don’t think they have a problem with alcohol until they realize they can’t really function without a drink. Drinking alone or sneaking liquor are signs that your alcohol consumption has turned a corner.

c. Alcohol versus Everything Else. Your friends want to go to a movie; you pass so you can go drink some beer. Soon your friends don’t ask you to spend time anymore and you’re left alone with your bottle. If drinking comes before family, friends, school, work, and your general responsibilities, it’s an issue.

Bottom line, if you think you have a problem with alcohol, you probably do. It’s not unusual, and it’s not embarrassing to admit you have trouble; it’s embarrassing to not get the help you need. If you don’t have an adult you can turn to for help, or you don’t have money or insurance, that’s okay; there are programs in Arizona set up to assist you. While not every program works for every person, here are a few to consider:

Teen Challenge of Arizona      (602) 271-4084 Phoenix

Teen Challenge of Arizona        (520) 792-1790 Tucson

Inspirations for Youth                (888) 997-2606

The River Source                    (866) 294-9331