- Dec 30, 2020
Alcohol Use Among Adolescents
One of the common public health problems in the United States today is alcohol use among adolescents. Alcohol is the drug of choice among adolescents – it is cheap and readily available. Many people, young as they are, have tasted and continue to drink alcohol at an early age.
How Important Is This Problem?
Alcohol use among adolescents is becoming a significant public health problem. In a recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey, they found that alcohol use among adolescents was as high as 29%, 14% binge drank, and an estimated 20% drink and drive. An alarming 7 million young people aged 12 to 20 reported drinking on a regular basis.
Alcohol intake at a young age is associated with harmful outcomes and untoward incidents. As a consequence of alcohol use among adolescents, these outcomes are expected:
- Display aggressive behavior
Alcohol can impair one’s consciousness and increases the likelihood of physical violence against other people. It can lead to poor decision-making and unsafe behavior.
- The trouble with school and law
Adolescents who use alcohol are more likely to be in trouble with school – as seen with increased absences and lower grades. They can also get arrested for doing untoward behavior while under the influence of alcohol.
- Incur injuries and accidents
Alcohol is an important factor playing a role in the deaths of young people. This can be due to vehicular accidents, homicides, alcohol overdoses, fall, and suicides. Alcohol-related injuries are a common reason for emergency room visits by adolescents.
- Increases risk of alcoholism in later life
Research shows that people who start drinking as adolescents are at higher risk for developing alcohol problems when they are adults, compared to those who begin drinking later.
Why do some adolescents drink?
Puberty, increasing independence, and lifestyle changes have all been associated with alcohol use as young children grow into adolescents. There are a variety of reasons why adolescents may start drinking alcohol:
- Peer pressure – Some adolescents might start drinking due to the influence and pressure of peers. Oftentimes, adolescents are somehow forced into trying alcohol to get along and belong with his or her peers.
- Presence in various media – Nowadays, alcohol is widely promoted on television, radio, and the Internet. Adolescents react to these ads out of curiosity, making them want to try.
- Expectations – Others might have their first taste of alcohol because they expect it to enhance their mood and pacify their minds. The expectation that alcohol can calm a person is one of the factors leading to its early use among adolescents.
- Environmental factors – Adolescents are not influenced just by peers, but even by their own family. Parents who drink a lot and view drinking as a favorable situation may have children who drink early on.
Underage Drinking is Preventable
It is important to screen for potential alcohol problems in adolescents. Early identification of the problem results in better management before they escalate. Several approaches have been enacted to minimize underage drinking, these include:
- Increasing alcohol taxes
- Regulation on the sale of alcohol to minors
- Reducing youth exposure to alcohol advertising
- Community-based programs to help with alcoholism in young people
Today, alcohol is widely available and aggressively promoted in media. Alcohol use among adolescents continues to be regarded as part of adolescence and growing up. However, if left unsupervised or uncontrolled, can lead to disastrous damage. Always seek help when necessary.