Alcoholism and alcohol addiction is a big problem for people of all age groups but there is a bigger Risks of Alcoholism in Teenagers. Many studies and statistics prove that almost 50% of American in the age group between 12 and 20 years have already tried alcoholic products. Alcoholism has become more of a trend for most teenagers and most of the adolescents in their teen years drink alcohol as a result of peer influence. Girls in their teen years have been reported to be involved in alcoholism as much as the boys. Statistics show that in the United States, a girl starts drinking at the average age of 13 years while for boys it is just 11 years. These facts and figures clearly reveal the alarming situation we have at hand regarding abuse of alcohol among teenagers.
Teenage drinking is not only a huge problem in the United States but it is equally a big problem in countries around the world. There are many risks and dangers which come along with alcohol abuse at an early age such as violent behaviour, vehicle accidents, alcohol poisoning and health issues related to abuse of alcohol. Alcohol abuse at an early age often means that the person will become a regular alcoholic in the future. It is highly probable that teenagers involved in alcoholism may be victims or accountable for violent criminal activities. Similarly, it may also cause traffic-related problems, accidents, anxiety and depression. Therefore, it is necessary to talk to the children at an early age and inform them about the bad impacts of early age alcoholism. Proper counselling by the parents at right time can decrease the chances of the teenagers becoming an alcoholic in the future. Most of the early age drinkers who begin drinking before they reach the age of twenty-one have a higher chance of:
- Fall into anxiety, depression and attempt suicide.
- Develop problems related to alcoholism later in life.
- Getting engaged in violent and criminal incidents.
- Engagement in unsafe sexual activities with multiple sex partners.
It has become a trend lately for most youngsters to experiment with alcoholism. As mentioned earlier, almost 50 % of US teenagers between the age of 12 and 20 have tried alcohol. It is believed on the basis of many researches that teenagers have higher chances to alcohol abuse because the pleasure centre located in the brain matures earlier than that part which is responsible to make proper decisions and control of impulse. It means that there are higher chances for teenagers to being involved in activities which give pleasure and they can’t make proper decisions regarding their life at that time. In the past years, boys were more likely to drinking alcohol at an early age but the difference between boys and girls drinking alcohol is narrowing down with time. In 2009, 15 Percent of boys from the age group between 12-20 years were found to have tried alcohol while the number was 14 % in case of girls. The overall figures indicated that 56% of all males aged over 12 years drank currently while 47% females were engaged in the same activity.
It has also been noticed that most teenagers who begin drinking at an early age will quit drinking or reduce the alcoholic activities when they reach a matured age. When they reach middle age or when they get additional responsibilities as a parent, employee or spouse, they may reduce their alcoholic intake or quit drinking but there is still a high risk of the impact of early age alcoholism. People who started drinking at an early age are six times more at risk of developing alcohol-related problems compared to people who didn’t begin drinking at teenage.
There are many factors which may develop the Risks of Alcoholism in Teenagers which are as mentioned below:
- Genetics may be responsible for being a factor behind alcoholism because a kid with parents having an alcoholic history is more likely to being engaged in alcoholism compared to a kid without any such family history.
- In case of the United States, some ethnic groups like the American Indians and Native Alaskans have higher chances of getting involved in Alcoholism at an early age.
- People who are having mental health problems like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression have higher chances of getting into alcoholism.
- Some teenagers believe that alcohol makes it easier for them to be socialized with people so such teenagers have chances of drinking alcohol more than others.
- Peer influence and family influence can be a big factor too because the teenagers may develop alcohol problems if alcohol is easily available in their peer group or at home.
- Men are more likely to be involved in alcohol-related problems but women can get addiction with less use and time.
Dangers of early age drinking
The age of 18-25 years is the age of change. Most of the teenagers leave their homes and start living on their own at this age. It is beginning to an independent life full of excitement but this also results in risks of alcohol abuse. Around 42% of young adults admit to binge drinking at least once every month. Binge drinking is to drink 5 or more drinks in case of men and 4 or more in case of women. It may be believed that college students are more likely to abuse of alcohol but studies have shown that teenagers indulge in drinking regardless of them being a college student or not. In fact, college students drink less than teenagers who don’t attend college but they tend to drink more at parties.
The reasons why alcoholism among teenagers is a big problem are mentioned below:
- One of the biggest factors behind deadly vehicle crashes is Alcohol. Around 1/3rd vehicle drivers in the age group of 21-24 who died in a car crash had consumed alcohol more than the legal limit.
- A brain is still developing in the teenage years so drinking at an early age could mean severe health complications in the future. There can be problems with memory, motor skills and coordination level.
- Alcoholism is also related to sexual abuse and criminal activities. Each year, around 97,000 students between the ages of 18-24 become victims of sexual assault and rapes because of alcohol.
Alcohol abuse can cause more problems for Teenage girls
Teenage Boys experiment with alcohol for the same reasons and Teenager girls also do it for the same obvious reasons but there are many problems which the girls have to face which the girls may not need to face. They are as mentioned below.
- Most teenage girls who are abusing alcohol heavily at an early age tend to say that they drink to deal with frustration, anger or to get rid of problems. Abusing alcohol heavily would mean drinking more five or more drinks in a row for at least five times in a month.
- It has been found that there is a higher chance for girls indulging in alcohol abuse as a result of family tension rather than pressure from peers.
- There can be a delay in puberty due to heavy drinking at an early age. Similarly, it can also cause endocrine gland related problems later in life.
- There is a higher probability that teenage girls who abuse alcohol may also be involved in unprotected sex. This will increase their chances of getting early age pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Alcohol poisoning and Binge drinking:
Binge drinking can be very dangerous in case of teenagers. Binge drinking is to drink 5 or more drinks in case of men and 4 or more in case of women. Binge drinking can cause loss of memory, blackout, feeling sickness and awkward behaviour among the teenagers. There may be chances of drunk driving or getting involved in arguments or fights. Binge drinkers may have a habit of binge drinking during the weekends and drink in less quantity at other times. People often take such kind of binge drinking lightly because they think it is just part of a celebration of because of some kind of stress. Teenagers as young as 13 years have been known to tried binge drinking. In adolescent years it becomes more common and in college life, it reaches a peak. A study among college students revealed the following facts as a result of binge drinking.
- College students involved in binge drinking were more likely to miss classes.
- They also feel much behind in school work and assignments.
- They were more likely to being injured or get into accidents.
- They were known to be responsible for damage to property.
- They are also at risk of alcohol poisoning which is a fatal result of alcohol consumption.
Diagnosis and dealing with Alcohol poisoning
Alcohol acts as a depressant for the central nervous system so consuming more alcohol at a rapid pace could slow down the important body functions like breathing, blood pressure and heart rate. This may fall down to dangerous levels and the person may become unconscious. The signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning are as follows.
- Getting unconscious
- Slowing down of respiration process
- Coldness, paleness or bluishness of the skin
- The breath and the skin giving a strong smell of alcohol
If there are signs of Alcohol poisoning then the following steps should be immediately followed:
- Never leave any patient with alcohol poisoning to sleep alone.
- Call emergency services immediately.
- Keep the person facing the left side slowly and keep a pillow to support the back. This will prevent a possibility of choking while vomiting.
- Don’t leave the person alone until help comes.
The parents, grandparents, teachers or friends have a great responsibility to guide the children properly in the teen years. Reports have proven that children with family history of alcohol abuse are at high risk of getting the same problems but they are less likely to have such problems if they had the ability to control on the environment or have developed coping skills. It is important for the adults to talk openly with the children about the negative impacts of drinking at an early age. The main reasons are as follows.
- Alcohol can impair the development of the brain and physical body.
- Alcohol is responsible for most of the vehicle accidents in teenage years.
- Drinking affects the judgment and decision making process leading the children to risky behaviour and criminal activities.
- Those teenagers who abuse alcohol also have chances of abusing drugs or other substances.
- Teenage alcohol abusers are more likely to involve in abusive and violent behaviour including fighting, stealing or skipping school.
- Drinking alcohol at underage is not legal.
So, it is important for the adult family members, parents and teachers to discuss the bad impacts of alcohol as early as possible. The children should be made clear about the expectations and values of the parents. There are higher chances of the children staying away from such activities if they feel strongly about it. It may be helpful to try and know the children better and also try finding of the parents of their friends. Be calm and patient to hear their feelings or response.