It's no secret that Wisconsin is a state where people consume alcohol. A lot of alcohol. The 2016 ranking released by 24/7 Wall Street of the top 20 drunkest cities in the U.S. further confirmed this, with 12 of the top 20 cities and 6 of the top 7 cities, located in Wisconsin. And it's not just adults doing the consuming. A 2009 CDC survey of Wisconsin teens in grades 9-12 found that 25.2% of teens reported having 5 or more drinks of alcohol in a row in the past 30 days.
Not everyone who drinks alcohol, and not even everyone who binge drinks alcohol, ends up having serious consequences and problems with their use. This can make it very difficult for the young people who are having issues with alcohol and substance use to accept that they have a problem. Continued binge drinking that has been normalized by Wisconsin drinking culture, can lead to teens being isolated from friends and family and finding themselves in increased risk of harm in many areas of their lives.
This often results in feelings of shame and hopelessness for teens and their families, and can further increase the barriers to teenagers receiving the support they need to start making positive changes in their relationships with drugs and alcohol. The good news is that there is hope, and there are many support services for teens and their families in Wisconsin. The Three C's help parents to understand that they didn't Cause their child's alcohol and substance use issues, they can't Cure the issues, and they can't Control the issues. Therapists with substance abuse training and treatment experience, provide safe places for teens and their families to seek information and treatment without being judged or shamed for the challenges they have faced.
Recovery is possible! Even for young people living in and navigating Wisconsin's culture of heavy alcohol use. Inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment services, non-profit organizations like Parent Addiction Network (https://safercommunity.net/parent-addiction-network-home), and peer support groups such as YPAA (young people in alcoholics anonymous) are just some of the examples of services that are available for teens dealing with substance use issues. Recovery is possible and happens through positive relationships and connecting with others who are dealing with the same struggles. Together we recover, and together we can continue to strengthen Wisconsin's youth recovery community.
Alex Kress is a mental health and substance abuse therapist at Connections Counseling who brings enthusiasm and compassion to understanding and working with individuals with mental health and substance use concerns. Alex's practice emphasizes working with college students, adolescents, and young adults, and supporting people in finding their path to recovery. Alex is an avid musician and a member of the Connections Music Group.