Alcohol abuse can be difficult to define when it comes to young adults. It often doesn’t present as the primary problem, especially in teens. If a person is abusing substances on any level, it’s safe to assume that alcohol is in the mix.


Alcohol Abuse

We don’t adhere to stringent labels. If a family member is using alcohol to change the way they feel, regardless of the type or quantity, then it’s an issue worth examining. Unsupervised alcohol withdrawal can be extremely dangerous, causing hallucinations, blackouts, tremors and seizures. We support our clients’ detoxes with 24-hour on-site medical staff and therapeutic support. If you're concerned about your loved one’s drinking contact us.

Is alcohol a drug?

when the central nervous system of the body shuts down. This is because ethanol is very similar to the drugs found in a general anaesthetic. Alcohol misuse or abuse if left untreated can is highly addictive and in extreme cases lead to death. Alcohol is a psycho active drug with depressant effects, it’s also known by its chemical name ethanol, which is the active ingredient in beer wine and spirits. Alcohol affects each person differently, it slows down the messages from your brain, which can ultimately affect how your body functions including speech, breathing, movement and coordination. Alcohol is probably the most common of all drugs and the most socially acceptable. The way that it affects each individual hugely varies, including how much and how often you drink, your genetic predisposition, whether you mix in other drugs and your metabolism. Over time alcohol use becomes progressive, meaning you need to drink more to have the same effect. Often this will happen despite having experience negative consequences in the past. Often people report having black outs after drinking, this occurs.

Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol addiction in young adults sets them up for failure. It is often a trigger for psychological issues, violence and aggression, and is linked to an increased risk of injury and automobile accidents. Rates of risk begin to climb after even one drink. Alcohol addiction sets the stage for unemployment, unsafe sex, and early pregnancy, as well as and the following health issues:

Cirrhosis of the liver
Kidney & Heart disease
Immune system dysfunction
Brain damage
Gastrointestinal issues and inflammation

Recognizing Alcohol Addiction

How do you know if someone you love has a drinking problem?

With young people, this doesn’t necessarily manifest as drinking every day. You might notice that alcohol has gone missing from your cabinets. The young person might be spending all their money at the off license. Or you might be finding empty glasses that smell like alcohol in their room, or bottles hidden in strange places. 

Have they ever lost recall while drinking? Have they been brought home by someone else, or had to be picked up from a party because they’d overdone it? Have they ever ended up in the ER because of their drinking? Have you had reports from their school or heard things from other parents?

If your loved one is not telling the truth around alcohol, or hiding their behaviour, this is a big red flag. 

We don’t encourage waiting it out to see for the more classic “alcoholic” symptoms, because while you’re waiting, something else will likely go wrong. If the addiction has become full-blown, and the person goes into withdrawal (a stage where there is no alcohol in their system), you may see physical and psychological signs. These can include:


A person who has become dependent on alcohol will often drink in order to quiet these symptoms.

It’s important to note that alcohol detox has a much higher fatality rate than heroin detox. No one who’s addicted to alcohol should stop drinking without support. If you suspect your loved one is abusing alcohol and experiencing signs of withdrawal, please don’t make them stop cold turkey. It could be extremely dangerous. 

If you’d like more information about our programme and facilities or want to tell us more about your family’s needs, please get in touch with us or request a call back.

Help is a Call away


Our in-house residential treatment programme is a minimum of 12 weeks. Studies have shown it takes an average of 90 days to change or break a habit. At The Wave, we focus not just on breaking habits, but on replacing them with new, healthy ones centred on mindfulness, self-care, coping mechanisms and resilience against relapse. Unlike a lot of shorter programmes, we don’t measure success based on completion of treatment, but on setting up our client with the tools to succeed at life. To learn more about our treatment options contact us

Drinking is a socially acceptable way of coming together - in fact, in many cultures, it’s encouraged. So, it’s normal to struggle with the idea that our loved one has a problem when it comes to consuming alcohol. We don’t want to give up the idea of beloved family celebrations or consider a difficult future with regards to our teen or young adult’s social life or ability to connect with others. What we don’t realise is that addiction is often a bigger picture disease. Treating it successfully requires commitment and involvement from the whole family - otherwise, the chances of relapse are far higher. 

Alcohol works in stages. The danger lies not in those few party drinks, but in mixing those drinks, and the loss of inhibition as drinking progresses. When a person reaches a certain point, all control is lost.  Since the human brain continues developing until the age of 24, alcohol use up until that time negatively impacts its development and function. Which means that even “a few drinks” can be detrimental. Alcohol affects learning skills in teens and young adults, as well as their ability to plan, reason and have self-control. 

When someone we love is hurting, it impacts everyone close to them. While we would never intentionally harm someone we love, we don’t realise that when it comes to consuming alcohol, the impact works both ways. We want to help and protect our loved one, so we might lend them money, bail them out of tough situations, or look the other way when things don't seem right. We might also blame them entirely for the problem, instead of making the uncomfortable choice to examine our contribution to the issue.  Recovery is only sustainable when the entire family system heals. That’s why, when treating alcohol addiction at The Wave, we work with the whole family.  

For more FAQs, please refer to our FAQs page.

Start your loved one's recovery journey today

Are you unsure about the severity of your teen or young adult’s relationship with alcohol?
Does it feel like they don’t drink much or often but that alcohol seriously impacts their behaviour?
Are you concerned that treatment and potential alcohol abstinence might have a negative effect on their future ability to socialise?


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