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Is your child an alcoholic?

As a parent of a teen, finding out that he or she has been getting drunk at parties, while out with friends or alone can be troubling and frightening. If there is a history of alcoholism in your family, you may fear that your child has inherited the disease and feel that getting him or her into Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or a recovery program is the only way to deal with it.

However, many people of all ages are "problem drinkers" rather than alcoholics. That means that they're able to cut back on their alcohol consumption or even stop drinking completely without outside help if they choose to. Studies have found that up to three-quarters of people who quit drinking do so without treatment or a 12-step program.

These people aren't powerless over alcohol. Alcoholics are. No amount of willpower will help them stop drinking. Some alcoholics need medical or professional help. Others can succeed with the support of a group like AA.

For people who want to get sober or at least control their drinking on their own, there are plenty of tools online. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is a good source of information. There are also resources specifically geared to high school and college students.

It's important to remember that if you have a child who has been drinking every day, going "cold turkey" can be dangerous. The body will go through detox. It's wise for anyone whose body has become accustomed to ingesting alcohol every day to seek medical guidance before he or she stops drinking.

If your child has been arrested for underage drinking and/or been charged with a DUI, in addition to getting experienced legal guidance, it's important to have an honest conversation about his or her drinking habits to help prevent another arrest or even worse consequences.

Source: Verywellmind.com, "Not All Problem Drinkers Are Alcoholics," accessed March 14, 2018