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The use of alcohol is so widespread in American culture that many young people feel it is a part of the rite of passage to engage in alcohol consumption. However, drinking alcohol before the age of 21 is against the law in most of the United States. In certain states, a minor in possession of alcohol can be subject to a jail term of up to 12 months for a first offense and substantial fines.

In addition, driving while under the influence of alcohol can mean additional legal consequences. You can spare your teenager from many problems by using your influence as a parent. A number of signs can indicate that your teenager is abusing alcohol and needs guidance and possible professional help to overcome the problem.

1. Poor Personal Grooming or Hygiene

Often, the first sign of an alcohol abuse problem is a change in grooming habits or hygiene. You teen’s appearance may gradually deteriorate, and the amount of time they once spent on showering and fixing their hair may now be spent sleeping or spending time with drinking friends.

Your child may also have a rapid increase in weight, as the extra calories from alcohol and the fact that it slows metabolism contribute to weight gain. Keep an eye on any changes in physical appearance since they are often indicators of a change in behavior.

2. Bruises or Injuries the Teen Can’t Explain

Your teen may show up with injuries that he or she can’t explain or may constantly have bruises that they don’t remember getting. These signs are common in individuals who are abusing alcohol and experience the poor coordination that results. Drunkenness can lead to severe accidents that cause disability or even death.

Oftentimes these accidents coincide with memory loss and binge drinking. Any unexplained injuries should send up a clear red flag that something is not right. Binge drinking can even turn deadly, whether from an auto accident or an accidental overdose.

3. Getting in Trouble at School or with the Law

Parents may become aware of a change in teens’ grades, problems with fighting at school or unusual changes in personality. The alcohol abuse may cause reckless behavior and trouble with the law. These are signs that the teen has lost control over his or her drinking and may require professional treatment. If the course continues, they may end up needing help from a DUI lawyer in Athens or your particular locale to mitigate the legal ramifications of the charge.

4. Frequent Use of Breath Mints or Gum

Teens will often use breath minds or chewing gum to cover up the smell of the alcohol. However, you will probably still be able to detect the smell regardless of their efforts to conceal the alcohol use.

Teens are adventurous and optimistic. They may not always consider the consequences of their actions and how it can affect their futures. If parents stay alert for the signs of alcohol abuse in their teens, they can intervene to get professional help for the problem and avoid the legal entanglements that can affect their children’s future.