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How Alcohol Impacts Mental Health

alcohol and mental health

In the United States, many teens will try alcohol for the first time at a very young age. Some boys will have their first taste by 11, and many girls will try alcohol by the time they are 13. Alcohol is a depressant that can change your brain chemistry and form a strong addiction and dependence on the substance with long-term use. Alcohol and mental health are directly related, and oftentimes, one will feed the other. Teens who turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their mental health illnesses are more likely to form co-occurring disorders

At Imagine Nampa, we help teen boys and girls aged 12-17 who struggle with mental health disorders. Our behavioral therapists help your teen understand their changing emotions and form healthy coping skills before they turn to drugs and alcohol. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or other mental health issues, call 888.503.4604 today. You can speak with our staff about the effects of alcohol on your teen’s mental health. 

How Alcohol Affects Your Teen’s Mental Health

When someone drinks alcohol, the chemicals in alcohol attach themselves to the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABBA) cell receptors and signal a massive release of dopamine. Dopamine is a naturally occurring chemical that regulates pleasure, motor control, mood, and motivation. Alcohol slows down the communication between the brain and body and can cause various symptoms such as:

  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired vision
  • Poor motor control and decision making
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slow heart rate
  • Low body temperature

The more the person drinks, the more it will take to continue to feel the effects of alcohol, and the more their body will crave it. They will begin to experience powerful withdrawal symptoms and worsening mental health as their body can no longer produce dopamine without more alcohol.

At Imagine Nampa, we can help your teen before their mental health issues worsen and create more roadblocks to their recovery. Don’t assume this is just a phase and get your teen the help they need before their symptoms worsen.

The Dangers of Self-Medicating for Your Mental Health

There are many misconceptions about alcohol and addiction. One of the biggest ones is that someone can self-medicate and not experience any withdrawal symptoms or addiction. When patients self-medicate, they take smaller doses throughout the day to keep up with schoolwork or the pressure of relationships or work. Over time, their body will still develop dependence and require more to feel the same relief. 

Teens who self-medicate are at an increased risk of forming co-occurring disorders where substance abuse will mask any mental health illnesses that fuel the addiction. If therapists are not aware of any underlying mental health issues, they will only treat the addiction. Patients who do not get the proper behavioral therapy for their mental health may risk relapsing and have a greater potential for overdose and death.

Are you worried that your teen son or daughter is self-medicating to ease their mental health symptoms? If so, look for these signs that point to a growing addiction and co-occurring disorders:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Irrational outbursts or violent behavior
  • Lying about their actions
  • A change in the friends they hang out with
  • Worsening depression or thought of self-harm and suicide

Seek Support for Your Teen at Imagine Nampa

At Imagine Nampa, we help teens 12-17 years of age who are struggling with mental health issues and any co-occurring disorders. We employ a wide range of behavioral and holistic therapy to give your teen the best chances at recovery. Our outpatient treatment programs include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Family counseling
  • Crisis intervention
  • Trauma/grief therapy
  • Co-occurring intervention
  • Teen relationship counseling

If you suspect your teen is drinking to cope with their changing feelings and emotions, call 888.503.4604 today.