Dear Mr. Morton- Are there any tests to determine if our son, age 16, is drinking too much? - Anonymous, Oak Harbor.
Dear Anonymous- I’m sure many parents like you have the same concern. Studies show that 8 percent of 8th graders, 16 percent of sophomores, and nearly ¼ of seniors drink 5+ drinks (binge drink) on the same occasion. About 5,000 youth under 21 die every year from car crashes, homicides, and suicides due to underage drinking (US Surgeon General report). Alcohol directly relates to 1,900 teen deaths from car crashes and 300 suicides each year.
I recommend the “Who Me?” interview (John Hopkins) for parents to use with teens and college students. I modified it to interview teens in my school psychology work. It’s straightforward and opens the door for subsequent discussion:
- Ever gotten into trouble at school or work because of alcohol?
- Ever been in trouble with the police because of alcohol?
- Do you drink to feel more relaxed around others?
- Do you drink to forget your worries?
- Do you drink to relax when you feel tense and nervous?
- Do you sometimes get drunk when you didn’t really intend to?
- Do you ever drink or before going to a party?
- Ever had a drink in the morning?
- Do you ever worry about your use of alcohol?
- Ever gotten into an argument or fight when drinking?
- Ever had times you cannot remember what happened while you were drinking?
- Ever felt guilty or “bummed out” after drinking?
- Ever turn to an inferior environment since using alcohol?
- Are you sometimes overwhelmed with feelings of loneliness or despair?
- Ever promised yourself that you would cut down on the use of alcohol and failed to keep that promise?
“Yes” to any five questions: Definitely an alcoholic problem. Get help for your teen, now!
“Yes” to four questions: Strong probability usage is causing problems in your child’s life.
Further Reading: Become more knowledgeable about teenage binge drinking. Also, easy to use alcohol testing kits:
Lastly, visit the Family Journal article “VI. Alcohol Abuse Research and Self-Assessment Of Your Relationship With Alcohol”.Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. has retired from his positions of school psychologist and aqdjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University, in Ohio. Questions about family, parenting, educational, or personal issues? Contact him at the secure Bpath Mail Form. Visit the national Family Journal column.