IT OFTEN seems as though young people use every opportunity to start partying and boozing when their parents or elders are not looking . . .

And while some kids booze because they’re bored or for fun, others are vulnerable and could become dependent on alcohol.

There are also those who medicate themselves with alcohol as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, depression or low self-esteem.

They feel that alcohol temporarily fixes their issues.

Here is a checklist of underage drinking warning signs.

Find the triggers

Is there anything which could tempt your teen to use alcohol. Are they trying to fit in, reduce stress or relax? Once you learn why a child is tempted to drink, you can help them fight those triggers by finding other ways to reduce stress, relax, or remove peer pressure.

Stress, anxiety and depression

Teenagers can feel overwhelmed by life and so use alcohol for relief from their frustration, social anxiety, depression or anger. Alcohol smooths over life’s sharp edges quickly. The effect feels good for teens who want to be rid of their bad feelings. But it’s temporary and the teen then needs more booze for the same comfort.

Testing boundaries

The need for independence in teens often manifests as reactions against authority. Alcohol is the teen’s drug of choice because it is freely available and they can break boundaries by breaking the law.

Social behaviour

Teens build their own social rules based on their understanding of adult society.

Drinking allows them to copy adult behaviour according to adult rules. This is aggravated by pressure to conform to their peers with drinking rituals.

Confidence in a bottle

Being drunk dulls the fear a person would experience when sober. This is why drunk people can become violent. For shy people, booze lets them interact in ways that would ordinarily fill them with worry.

Finding that your child has been drinking may be youthful rebellion or experimentation but these symptoms are also indicators of alcohol abuse – especially depression or past trauma:

Mood swings: Flare-ups of temper, irritability and defensiveness.

School problems: Poor attendance, low marks or recent disciplinary action.

Alone: Struggles to adjust to new social changes.

Don’t care: Untidy looks, bored by old interests and general low energy.