Adolescent Alcoholism


More than ever, parents and teenagers need timely, accurate information on adolescent alcoholism and its devastating impact. According to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, a 2003 national survey found that thirteen percent of youth aged 12 to 17 had at least one serious problem related to drinking during the previous year.

The Clearinghouse notes that teenage alcohol abuse correlates with a rise in risky sexual behavior, while the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports an alarming statistic regarding alcohol-related traffic deaths: Thirty-two percent of drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 who died in traffic crashes in 2003 had measurable alcohol in their blood.

The US Dept. of Health also cites research that shows the negative effects of teenage alcohol abuse can extend beyond those years.

Scientists have said that since a teenager’s brain is still developing, excessive drinking during this critical period could lead to lifelong memory, motor skill, and coordination impairment.

With so many dangers involved, a vital piece of information on adolescent alcoholism concerns the warning signs of this illness. The National Clearinghouse for Drug and Alcohol Information notes that if you, your son or daughter, or a friend has one or more of the following characteristics, he or she may have an alcohol problem:

  • Getting drunk with frequency
  • A lack of honesty about how much alcohol he or she is using
  • Believing that alcohol is necessary to have a good time
  • Having regular hangovers
  • Feeling lethargic, depressed, or even suicidal
  • Having "blackouts" – an inability to recall what he or she did while drinking

Health and Human Services adds that teenagers who show signs of alcoholism may have personality characteristics placing them at greater risk for problems with alcohol.

Reducing Teenage Drinking

Curbing access to alcohol could be the most effective means of reducing teenage drinking.

Educating bartenders and store cashiers to sell alcohol responsibly, limiting alcohol marketing and advertising, raising prices on alcohol through tax increases, and banning alcohol sales on college campuses are among the strategies the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recommends.

If there is any good news in the most current information on adolescent alcoholism, it is in the research cited by Health and Human Services that shows people are prone to their heaviest drinking in their late teens and early to mid-twenties, largely because parental oversight becomes diminished at this time of life while adult responsibilities have not been assumed.

Once the transition is made to a more adult lifestyle with careers, getting married, and parenthood, alcohol consumption tends to drop.





More than adolescent alcoholism on our teenage alcoholism page

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