Alcohol abuse in teenagers

Introduction

Adolescence is the time when you want to be super-cool in your group and you may blindly follow something or a latest fad without listening to your instincts and parents. Sometimes it is the adrenaline rush while most of the times you just do things because either your friends are doing those things or they are forcing you to do. There is a wide range of activities that might give you adrenaline rush in teenage such as fast cars, fast bikes, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and having drugs.

Adolescence is the time of intricate interaction between physical and psychosocial development. This is also the time when environmental and social attitudes also have an impact on the behavioural attitude of the teenagers. Sometimes social or cultural taboos related to use of marijuana, tobacco or alcohol may promote or demote its use in teenagers.

Is it normal to drink alcohol?

It depends on what society you live and what are the cultural and social norms related to drinking alcohol. But be it any society drinking alcohol at an early age puts you at risk of becoming an addict and many other health hazards related to alcoholism. Some teenagers who have alcohol occasionally may report bizarre after effects of having alcohol and they take it as a coping strategy for stress which is quite common at this age. Additionally having alcohol makes you talkative so some teenagers have alcohol just to take out the frustration and speak things that they cannot speak in conscious mind. Having alcohol also results in rash and impulsive driving and fights. So it can even put your life at risk.

Why do adolescents get addicted?

There are many reasons that why do teenagers get addicted to alcohol. Many studies have been conducted and they suggest that the use of alcohol intake at an early adolescent age increases the risk of alcohol dependence and abuse compared to individuals who start consuming alcohol in adulthood. The reason for this can be attributed that teenage or adolescence is the time when there are lot of physical and emotional changes taking place. The adolescents are in a state of emotional and psychological turmoil. Added to it is the stress of good performance in studies, sports and other co-curricular activities. Adolescents sometime feel that nobody loves and understands them. Thus alcohol consumption can act as a leeway for coping stress, which is totally inappropriate as it interferes with the personality development and results in poor decision making traits.

Inspite of all the ill and hazardous effects of alcohol on health, alcohol is the most popular drug among teens. In developed countries the prevalence of high school seniors indulging in alcohol consumption is more common than the developing countries. Adolescents who actively drink admit to combining drinking behaviours with other risky behaviours such as driving or taking additional substances. Binge drinking remains especially problematic among the older teens and young adults. Teens with binge drinking patterns are more likely to be assaulted, engage in high risk sexual behaviours, have academic problems, and acquire injuries than those teens without binge drinking patterns.

Alcohol contributes to more deaths in young individuals than all the illicit drugs combined. Alcohol consumption leads to irrational behaviour, rash driving and violent behaviour. Fights and motor vehicle crashes are the most frequent type of event associated with alcohol use, but the injuries spanned several types including self-inflicted wounds and from fights.

Risk factors that may cause an adolescent alcoholic

There are many factors that can affect an adolescent’s risk of developing a drinking problem at an early age. There may be emotional causes which may range from loss of some dear one, inability to cope stress, family disturbances, lack of love and emotional support from loved ones. The other reasons that may contribute to the habit of alcohol consumption may be social and cultural. Like if a teenager belongs to a community where there is violence, crime and drugs, there are high chances that the adolescent may become used to drinking alcohol. The risk factors those are associated with alcoholism are:

Low parental supervision
  • Poor parent to teen communication
  • Family conflicts
  • Severe or inconsistent family discipline
  • Having a parent with an alcohol or drug problem
Individual risk factors
  • Poor impulse control
  • Emotional instability
  • Thrill seeking behaviours
  • Behavioural problems
  • Perceived risk of drinking is low
  • Begins drinking before age 14 years

What are the complications of alcoholism?

Alcohol surely will make you drowsy and forgetful as it acts primarily as a central nervous system depressant. Alcohol has many effects on the body some are short term while other are long term effects.

  • If taken in small or moderate doses it produces euphoria, grogginess, talkativeness, impaired short term memory, and an increased pain threshold.
  • Alcohol produces vasodilation and hypothermia which is controlled by brain.
  • At very high serum levels, respiratory depression occurs.
  • Its inhibitory effect on pituitary antidiuretic hormone release is responsible for its diuretic effect.
  • The single large ingestion of alcohol often results in gastrointestinal complications like vomiting and hyperacidity.
  • It also results in acute erosive gastritis, which is characterised by severe stomach and abdominal pain, anorexia, vomiting, and blood-positive stools.
  • Less commonly, vomiting and mid abdominal pain may be caused by acute alcoholic pancreatitis; diagnosis is confirmed by the finding of elevated serum amylase and lipase levels.

Conclusion

Teens with binge drinking patterns are more likely to be assaulted, engage in high risk sexual behaviours, have academic problems, and acquire injuries than those teens without binge drinking patterns. Peer pressure to try out alcohol is very common in this age. It may give you an adrenaline rush for a while and make you popular among your peer group but it may lead you to serious consequences whose shadows will always be cast on the building blocks of your future.

Indulging in alcoholism may make your involvement in activities such as drinking and driving, fights, violent behaviours which may lead to some legal action against you. Once a legal action is taken against you it may become a major roadblock when you seek admission in some reputed university for higher education or if you want to serve the nation being a cop or in army.

Now choice is yours whether you want to make your future or mar your future for a momentarily high. Life is beautiful and there’s more to life when you want to do something good.

References


  1. Nelson textbook of paediatrics, 19th edition, Kliegman, Stanton, St. Geme, Schor, Behrman. Elsevier publication. ISBN: 978-1-4377-0755-7.Chapter-12.
  2. Current Pediatric Therapy, 18th edition, Frederic et al, ISBN-13: 978-0-7216-0549-4. Chapter-6
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