Alcohol and Adolescents
Alcohol has become the easiest drug to obtain for adolescents which has been leading to a life of alcoholism. Even though the legal age is twenty one, many teenagers are still finding ways to obtain alcohol. According to some reports kids as early as seven have tasted alcohol. Nearly three million young people between the ages of 14 and 17 “are regular drinkers with a serious alcohol problem” (Kittleson, 2005, 59). With statistics such as this no wonder younger children get addicted early on creating problems for them in the future. Researchers have found that the younger a child is when he or she begins to the drink more likely he or she is to become dependent on alcohol (Kittleson, 2005, 59).
Children start drinking earlier and earlier each year. There are many factors that may contribute to this such as being pressured from friends, wanting to fit in and look cool and sometimes it just looks like fun. In 2003, the average age of first use of alcohol was about 14, compared to about 17 ½ in 1965 (NIAAA, 2012). However, they do not realize that they are affecting themselves in the long run in many negative ways. Drinking alcohol at a young age has many damaging effects on the body since it is not fully developed yet. Younger people who drink heavily are putting themselves at risk for many health problems. Many kids do not think of the effects that alcohol may have on them at this time. Their only concern is to have a good time by fitting in. Not only are there negative effects on the body but these young adolescents also tend to make very irresponsible decisions which may harm themselves or others. Another risk that is associated with early drinking is the dependence for alcohol. According to the NIAAA, “people who reported starting to drink before the age of fifteen were four times more likely to also report meeting the criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives (NIAAA, 2012). New research even shows that the serious drinking problems typically associated with middle age actually begin to appear much earlier, during young adulthood and even adolescence (NIAAA, 2012).
There are many health hazards that come with drinking at an early age. Adolescence is a significant point in brain development. Unlike the adult brain, the teenage brain is more vulnerable to the toxic effects of alcohol. “The brain is developing during adolescence and whenever a brain is developing, it is vulnerable to the disruptive effects of alcohol” says White (Kittleson, 2005). Some problems that may be caused are vital cognitive skills such as memory, learning and attention. This period is the most vital time in life for learning and alcohol severely alters that when consumed. Drinking too much at this time may lead to a life of addiction.
Not only does alcohol affect your body but it also helps you make very irresponsible decisions. Teenagers are most susceptible to this because their tolerance is very low compared to adults who know what their limit is. Teenagers rarely stop when they have had enough, they usually try and compete with friends by seeing who can drink more, which is hardly a smart choice. Friends are always trying to get each other to drink more and no one usually says no because they do not want anyone to think that they cannot handle it. It is very careless to drink this way because they are hurting themselves more than anyone else.
In a typical year, more than 17,000 people are killed while driving under the influence of alcohol (Kittleson, 2005, 89). Drinking and driving is a huge mistake that adolescents tend to make more than adults do. They do not realize how intoxicated they are when they make decisions. Drinking affects the frontal lobe of the brain, which is in charge of helping you think clearly, evaluate situations, and make good decisions. Reaction time is so much slower when inebriated therefore making it hard to react to any situation around you. If having one drink...
References: DNC. (4, Jan. 2006). Ads Influence Teens to Drink More. Retrieved from: http://health.
Kittleson, Mark. (2005). The Truth About Alcohol. New York: Book Builders LLC.
NIAAA. (2006, January). Alcohol Alert: Underage Drinking. Retrieved from:
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