The effects of teenage drinking can be quite serious. Fortunately, teenage alcohol use is on the decline. Still, it is a problem of note, with three out of four high school students reporting that they have consumed an alcoholic beverage prior to graduating high school.
The most serious effects of teens drinking is that it leads to adult dependence. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that teens who start drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop an alcohol addiction than those who do not begin drinking before the legal age of 21.
Drinking and driving is another danger of teenage alcohol use. Forty percent of all alcohol-related fatal car crashes involve teens. Teens may not realize they are too impaired to drive, or they may be afraid to call home for a ride. Regardless of the reason, teens that drink often drive while under the influence.
Other effects of teenage drinking include decreased inhibitions that may lead to risk-taking behaviors. Alcohol intoxication impairs the judgment and teens who are intoxicated may engage in a number of dangerous behaviors.
Alcohol may also serve as a “gateway drug” into more serious drug use. Once teens have decided alcohol use is acceptable, they may feel other drugs are also okay. Impaired judgment may also lead to the experimentation with other drugs.
Teen alcohol use nearly always causes poor performance in school, if the teen is using on any kind of a regular basis. Teens who use alcohol have trouble concentrating in class and on assignments. They also have difficulty with peer relationships and with relationships with teachers and other authority figures.
Teen alcohol use also causes family problems. Teens who use alcohol may withdraw from the family and have difficulty with family relationships. They may demonstrate behavioral problems as well.
There are also health risks involved with alcohol use. People today are well aware of the health problems caused by excessive alcohol consumption. Health problems can include stomach ulcers, liver problems, heart problems, and malnutrition. These problems generally occur in people who have been drinking over a longer period of time and are not always seen in teens, but can result as they grow older if they continue to drink.
Finally, teens who use alcohol may have legal problems due to their behavior. Underage drinking is illegal, and teens who drink may engage in other illegal behaviors as well.
The effects of teenage drinking is a problem that worries parents, educators, and policy makers alike. It is a far-reaching problem and affects us all directly and/or indirectly.
Fortunately, there are things that can be done to decrease teenage alcohol use. By simply talking to their teenagers about the use of alcohol and the effects of teenage drinking, parents can reduce the risk of their children drinking. Studies show that teens whose parents talk to them about alcohol and drugs are 42% less likely to use those substances than teens whose parents don’t discuss the issue with them.
Parents can also help by setting good examples for their teens. If they drink, parents should do so responsibly, and never drive while under the influence.
Most schools also provide educational programs designed to educate students about the dangers of underage drinking. Some of these programs are more effective than others. One popular program, DARE, involves local police officers coming into the schools to talk to students about drugs and alcohol. Its effectiveness has been called into question, but it is still one of the most widely used programs today.
Please feel free to write to us if you would like more information about how to prevent teenage alcohol use.
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