The key to overcoming teenage alcohol abuse is for kids find a passion outside of drugs and alcohol that can equal their passion that they had for getting high. This is easier said than done and in fact the situation is more complicated than just finding another passion.
Most teens who suffer from alcohol abuse problems actually do have things that they are passionate about already. But the key is that they are not in a position to return to those things, because they have fallen into the trap of relying on alcohol to have fun. They do not see life outside of being drunk and they do not see how they can possibly have any fun again without using alcohol in order to do so. So how can they make the leap to sobriety, knowing that they will be miserable without their crutch of alcohol in order to have fun and relax? How can they convince themselves that there will be a brighter future and good times again if they can just get past their alcohol addiction?
This is not an easy task. The average age at an AA meeting is something like 52. This is because the younger a person is, the less likely they are to try and sober up. It is very hard to put down the alcohol and start a new life. It takes guts. It takes courage. And it takes a lot of energy. Realistically, most people do not have the amount of energy necessary to create a new life without alcohol in it. Young people have enough energy to do it, but they are too stubborn and have not yet experienced enough pain.
What forces an alcoholic to try and change their life? Pain. We are motivated only by pain to try and stop drinking. We will not stop drinking in order to experience joy. That does not truly motivate us to make the hard changes, as much as we would like to believe so. It is only after experiencing a great deal of misery that we will become willing to take the necessary action in order to stop drinking.
Teens are at a natural disadvantage when it comes to quitting alcohol, because they do not have as much incentive to do so yet. They have not yet had their fill of pain due to alcohol, and they can still have fun with getting drunk at times. In their later years, the fun is long gone, and they have accumulated much pain from addiction. But early on it is much harder to find the motivation to change.
The problem is that you cannot scare the addict straight, no matter how young they are. Most kids are just trying to appear “cool,” so they are not going to give in to a show of intimidation. They will pretend that they are not afraid of prison, etc. All part of the image. But deep down their lives are actually ruled by fear, even though they would never admit it. This is because they cover up their emotions by using drugs and alcohol, rather than to actual “be real.”
Part of growing up is realizing that they have been self medicating with the drugs all along, and that this is not the “real” them. But this is going to take time, and maturity, for them to get to this realization. Most will not be able to achieve this kind of breakthrough while they are still in their teenage years. In fact most will not even realize this in during their twenties or thirties. Pride can keep people living in pain for a long time.
There is not much incentive for a teenager to give up alcohol for the rest of their life. They have too much life ahead of them, or so they believe. So it is a tough sell.