Most frequently observed situations in teenagers

Binge drinking:

Question: I went to a party and started drinking. I can only remember the first few glasses. I got really sick. How much can I drink without the risk of being sick and without my parents finding out?

Answer: The risks of binge drinking at this age. First of all you must know what you could be up against. Kids of your age are not normally fully aware of the risks linked to the use of alcohol. Clearance mechanisms of alcohol only reach full efficiency after the age of 18 and the impact of large quantities of alcohol in a short time (binge drinking) exposes a young body to consequences that can even be fatal.

Your parents have more experience than you and they can advise you rather than be an obstacle to have fun consciously.

Here are some helpful hints:

  • Try to consume beverages with a low alcoholic content;
  • Drink slowly, alternating alcoholic with non-alcoholic drinks, and never drink on an empty stomach;
  • Never have more than 2 drinks in 3 hours.

According to the guidelines of "Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking”, a "drink” is:

  • One 341-ml (12 oz.) bottle of 5% proof beer, cider, etc.;
  • One 142-ml (5 oz.) glass of 12% proof wine;
  • One 43 ml (1.5 oz.) portion of 40% proof spirits.

Electronic games:

Question: I’m no longer able to have a normal conversation with my 13-year-old son as he is continually distracted by electronic games (mobile phone, play station, you tubers, etc.). At what point should I start worrying? Is this just a momentary distraction of the actual generation that will disappear over time, or should I seek help??

Answer: the inability to establish emotional contact with your son leads me to believe that there could be a problem and that it should be dealt with in an appropriate manner. The particular neuro-psychological development of a teenager entails a marked tendency to pursue activities with scarce intellectual commitment and rapid achievement of satisfaction as in the case of video games. They lose themselves in a pseudo-reality that makes them create situations that are non-conformist and/or quickly solved with a simple "click”. The resulting excitement can be compared to the exaltation and pleasure experienced with drugs and alcohol.

Signs of addiction include the amount of time spent playing and polarization in this single activity. Also regarding the ability to do without, like what happens if you take it away from him for a week? Is there any change in his behavior?

If it is addiction the first thing to do is to address this issue together with an important person in the life of your son, such as his pediatrician or teacher, and then get in touch with a specialist in this field in order to obtain information and instructions about what to do. If it turns out to be a serious problem, the treatment may involve both parents and child. The type of therapy is decided case by case.


Betting:

Question: I started making small bets at school and used to win. It’s a good feeling to win and also to have money. Now that I’m over eighteen I bet regularly at betting shops and also online. My parents don’t give me money to bet… I realize that it’s something I shouldn’t do but how can I stop???

Answer: The case must be dissected to make the person more aware of the situation and namely, that betting is an addiction. It begins with the pleasure of winning and finishes up as slavery. We need to show them the real version of the situation, namely, that they risk not only being addicted but also of finding themselves in financial strife.

Message for parents: keep your eyes open for the first signs of weakness/curiosity about the issue of betting/winning money/and check whether your children have money you haven’t given them.


Cannabis derivatives:

Question: I was invited to the birthday party of one of my high school friends. They asked me to share a joint with the group and told me it was a harmless substance. Is it true that it’s not addictive like other drugs??

Answer: It’s true that cannabis creates less "physical” addiction; however it has great appeal due to the context in which it is usually consumed. The altered level of consciousness deriving from contact with the substance in fact represents the effective risk factor and it is not predictable. Literature is full of examples of its negative impact at both a neurological level (cognitive dysfunctions) and psychiatric level (anxiety disorders/panic attacks, etc.), with a subsequent drop in academic performance.

The relative safety profile is also affected by the various differences via which the substance is marketed and offered (leaves, seeds, resin), as well as by the different concentrations of the active ingredient and by the possible contamination with "synthetic cannabinoids” (that can interact with the cannabinoid endogenous receptors, but are associated with a considerable negative toxicological medical impact), more or less known drugs, and "cutting” agents that are added to intensify the effects of the basic molecule.