Could I be a teenage alcoholic?

By Holly Counts, Psy.D.

Q: Although I am only 16, I feel like I have a dependency to drink. There is a shop owner I know and he serves me whatever alcohol I want, although all I ever buy is vodka. I have always enjoyed drinking a lot, seemingly more than my friends. Weed doesn’t affect me so if my friends get stoned I get drunk. I have been drinking since I was about 14, and I have been almost hospitalized because my drinking has gotten out of control. More recently, however, I have been very very drunk but without anyone else realizing it. When I complain that I was drunk and I feel embarrassed that I did stupid things the night before, everyone else says they didn’t even notice I was intoxicated. For the past six months or so, when my drinking has been at it’s worst, when I go to college I take a bottle of diet coke with about 3-4 shots of vodka inside it so I can have a drink during lessons and lunchtimes. My friends used to either join in or laugh along with me but now when they find vodka in my bag they take it off me and get angry, so I have taken to doing my shots in the morning when I wake up instead.

I do not enjoy my college – most people hate me apart from my close friends and even my close friends argue with me regularly. I have mood swings constantly and am forever changing my mind about my boyfriend – I have two timed a lot of people and this has brought on a bad reputation. Whenever I have cheated on someone I have been drunk, but as I mentioned earlier, no one else could tell I was drunk. I am a very shy person in general and find it hard to meet new people. When I am drunk, however, I can talk and lose all my inhibitions. This feeling of being confident is incredible and I don’t want to lose it, so whenever I am in social situations I feel I have to be drunk, even when alone with my boyfriend or my best friends.

Whenever I have a bad day, too I return home to the cupboard where I keep my vodka. If I don’t have at least half a bottle in that cupboard I feel very panicky and focus all my energy on getting another bottle. Stealing alcohol has also gotten me in trouble – I have stolen a bottle of vodka from a supermarket, and I have frequently gotten drunk at work without telling my boss (i work behind a bar sometimes, and I serve myself drinks of vodka and coke. this obviously is against the rules.)

I used to be an excellent student at school – I got straight A’s in my GCSEs. Now I am finding it difficult to get a C grade in my A’s levels and I am scared of losing my intelligence. I feel tired all the time and I can never feel my hands or feet. Alcohol has also made me feel as if I have to smoke cigarettes so now I cannot stop that either.

I don’t know if this helps, but I counted my units (vaguely) of alcohol for the past week and it totals 38. I’m really scared of my habit. What should I do?

A: I am very concerned about your situation. Drinking as much as you describe would be a problem for anyone, but at the age of 16, I would say that this is a severe situation that you need to get help for immediately. You are already starting to have consequences for your drinking such as grades dropping, losing friends, doing things you normally wouldn’t do if you were sober, making poor or risky decisions. Not only does alcohol affect your mood and judgment, but you must also consider the toll it is taking on your body. If you keep this pace up your liver will begin shutting down and you could die way before your time. I am not familiar with the mental health and alcohol and drug programs in England but I strongly urge you to find out what help is available and get there as fast as you can. Alcoholics Anonymous is an international organization that can help but with your level of drinking you may need to first detox under the care of a physician. I am glad you wrote about your problem and I sincerely hope that you will find help so you can get sober and find out how wonderful life can be without needing a drink. Good luck.

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Feb 2007

APA Reference
Counts, H. (2007). Could I be a teenage alcoholic?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/02/23/could-i-be-a-teenage-alcoholic/

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