Alcohol is the primary drug of choice for America’s teenagers, and the complexities of teenage drinking continue to ruin lives day after day. Statistics show that they abuse alcohol to a much greater extent than any other drug. Teen alcoholism has become a major problem affecting families regardless of their economic and social standing. Recent data shows that about one-half of all junior high school and high school students report that they drink alcohol on a monthly basis. Many admit to binge drinking where they can drink five or more drinks at a time. The numbers are staggering for the teenagers, parents, and society. More education regarding the detrimental aspects of drinking and early intervention is needed to help curb this growing problem.
Teen Driving and Alcohol
Teens and alcohol use are responsible for a growing number of automobile accidents. Drinking and driving causes more deaths for teenagers than any other traffic accidents. Reports of fatal automobile accidents in 2010 show that 56% of teen drivers were between 15 and 20 years of age. Most were involved in crashes after drinking and driving.
Physical and Mental Effects of Alcohol
Some of the more common effects of of alcohol abuse in teens are apparent to the discerning observer in the following ways::
- Decrease in ability to pay attention in or out of the classroom
- Increase in high school dropouts
- Increased difficulty with memory and retention
- Greater potential to develop major alcoholic problems later in life
- Many teens who abuse alcohol become involved in crime
- Increased risk for teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases
- Increased risk of depression and suicide
These effects are more pronounced in teens due to the fact that their brains are still in the developmental stage, making it more difficult for them to fully grasp the potential danger they are placing themselves in each time they get “wasted”.
Reasons Teens May Start Drinking
Teenagers are constantly exposed to messages from adults that tend to glamorize drinking alcohol. Many parents of teenagers drink alcohol socially and never realize how they are influencing their children. When they choose to have a glass of wine for dinner or a beer while watching football on television, they are sending a clear message to their teen that it is an acceptable part of life. Teens are greatly influenced by advertising showing all types of people enjoying alcohol making it appear to be harmless. Some try it because of curiosity while others want to fit in with their friends or feel better about themselves. They see their parents drink to unwind or relax and want to experience that feeling.
Coping With Alcohol-Related Problems
The risk of abusing alcohol is very real for teens. Because it acts as a depressant, it may alter a person’s judgment and perception making it difficult to recognize that a problem exists before it is too late. Talking to a trusted adult such as a school counselor, teacher or member of the clergy is a good start toward receiving help. Inpatient evaluation and treatment facilities offer teens the opportunity to receive professional care in a carefully monitored and supportive environment. One of the major benefits of inpatient treatment for teenage drinking is that teens receive education that includes coping strategies to help them succeed. Constant supervision and consistency play a critical role in the healing process.