Teenage alcohol abuse is increasingly becoming a major problem in the United States. It permeates through every socio-economic level, all races, colors, religions and nationalities. According to figures released by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol is currently the leading cause of death among teenagers. Teenage drinking is a major contributor to the high rate of vehicular accidents, traumatic injuries, suicide attempts and teenage rape. Alcohol is so far the most used and abused substance among teenagers today.
It is estimated that a staggering twenty million American’s are alcoholics, and to make matters worse, the offspring of these alcoholics are highly susceptible to inherit the disease. The average age that a teen in the United States begins drinking on a regular basis is roughly at the age of 16. This means five years prior to the legal drinking age! Moreover, some teenagers become exposed to alcohol at an even younger age. In general, it is age 11 for boys and age 13 for girls. For concerned parents and citizens, these are alarming and sobering statistics indeed.
Recent studies also show that approximately 40% of those who commence drinking at the age of fourteen or younger would eventually end up as alcoholics. The problem lies on the fact that most people are unaware that alcoholism is an inherited disease. Statistics from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry show that children of alcoholics are four times more likely to become alcoholics as well. This goes to show that alcoholism has an established genetic thread. This fact is virtually unknown to many, so disseminating the information is vital in addressing the problem.
One of the primary causes of teenage alcohol abuse is peer pressure. This can also influence a teenager’s decision to start drinking. Once teenagers see that their perrs are drinking, they may think that they should also drink so that they could fit in and have a sense that they belong. Majority of teenagers start drinking to assuage their social anxiety and to make it easier for them to make friends.
Another major cause of teenage drinking is that teens are trying to get out of line and turn against their parents in an effort to assert their own authority or control. In such cases, teens may start to drink just to prove that they no longer have to be treated as children nor be absolutely controlled by their parents.
What’s more, it is important to note that teenagers who venture into college for the first time experience stress from school. It is possible that they may turn to alcohol in order to relieve their stress. College marks a huge transition for a lot of teenagers, and a lot of them would struggle in adapting to a sudden change of scenery. Hence alcohol becomes an enticing means of escape or a way of coping with the sudden changes and stresses of college life.
Teenage drinking is not an exact science, and there are many different reasons behind teenage alcohol abuse. The abuse of alcohol by teenagers is devious, and adults who often refuse to believe that their teens would “do that”, later discover that they already have. It is therefore imperative that parents, educators and social workers need to remain vigilant to the signs of alcohol abuse among teenagers.