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Teen Drinks Heavily

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I just recently started drinking. I didn't start because of peer pressure or anything like that.

I drink maybe once every ten days, but when I do, I usually drink half to three-quarters of a bottle of hard liquor. Is it better to drink lightly more often or drink heavily once in a while?

A: It's better for you not to drink at all. I know that wasn't one of the choices that you offered me, but I think it's your best choice at your age, which I'm guessing to be in the teenage range. I'd be interested in why you chose to drink, since you say it has nothing to do with keeping up with your peers who drink. Peer pressure doesn't have to mean that your friends/peers are putting pressure on you to join them in drinking. It can mean simply that you have started to drink because you believe drinking will help you fit in socially.

Right now you are exhibiting alcoholic behavior by drinking one half to three-quarters of a bottle of hard liquor every ten days. I don't use the narrow definition of an alcoholic as someone who is addicted to alcohol and can't stop drinking. My definition of an alcoholic is someone who cannot/does not have a healthy relationship with liquor. Getting drunk every time you drink makes you an alcoholic. It's the relationship that you have with alcohol that makes you an alcoholic, not just whether you are physically addicted to it or not. I've counseled people for over 30 years who think that as long as they kid themselves into believing that they could "stop anytime I want" that they don't have a problem with alcohol.

Whatever your reasons for starting to drink -- getting high, escaping your problems, loneliness, whatever they are -- I strongly advise you to reconsider your drinking behavior and find better ways to get what you are seeking.

You're off to a very unhealthy relationship with alcohol, apart from drinking illegally. Please talk to your parents about this or a trusted adult or counselor. Alcohol isn't the enemy here, but how you are using it is getting you in trouble and will continue to do so.

I hope that you do a reality check and get some help from people who care about you. I don't want you to join so many kids who start their relationship with alcohol in a most destructive and unhealthy way. Thanks for writing and listening.

Learn More

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    More on: Expert Advice

    Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

    Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.
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