TEEN Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 3
Teenage Drinking 8
Effects 9
Causes 10
Reasons Teens Drink 10
Treatment 11
Alcohol abuse 12
Literature: 13

TEEN Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Alcohol abuse is a very dangerous condition in that it can cause many problems in a person’s life and affect many aspects of their lifestyle. Alcoholism (or alcohol abuse) somehow affects everyone’s life at some point in time; through a parent, a sibling, a friend, or even personal encounters. Alcohol abuse, as a medical diagnosis, refers to a pattern of behavior characterized by excessive alcohol consumption. This co onsumption can occur at regular intervals, regular weekend intervals, or during binges, which are considered as being intoxicated for at least two successive days. Difficulty in stopping, reducing the amount of alcohol use, and impaired social/occupational role functioning are all characteristics of alcohol abuse.

A number of theories in the medical field are used to explain alcohol abuse. These are the biologic-genetic model, learning/social model, the psychodynamic model, and the multidimensional model. Each different model, for alcoholism has varied explanations as s to how and why people use and abuse alcohol.

The biologic-genetic model states that there is a specific genetic vulnerability for alcoholism. There have been extensive studies on factors in the genes that could determine or influence the use of

f alcohol from generation to generation. However, these studies have shown no hard evidence for an association between alcoholism and inherited factors.

The psychodynamic model of alcoholism proposes that problematic child rearing practices produce psychosexual maldevelopment and dependence/independece conflicts. It is believed that while habitual alcohol use is in process, the habitual drinker may use behavior such as exaggeration, denial, rationalization, and affiliation with socially deviant groups. Results of these behaviors may include decreased work efficiency, job loss, alienation of friends and family, or even hospitalization.

The multidimensional model of alcoholism combines the interaction of biological, behavioral, and sociocultural factors. These three factors contribute together to make the strongest model, in which most alcoholics fit. The biological model relates to th he progression from occasional initial relief drinking, to the increase of tolerance, and from loss of memory during heavy drinking periods to an urgency of drinking. The behavioral model is helpful in the identification of high-risk situations, in which alcoholics are most likely to be ritualistally drinking. Sociocultural factors are present in peer interaction around drinking as a primary activity for entertainment. This can lead to the preference of drinking for social interaction. Ideas such as this are influenced greatly, an

nd shaped by media through commercials, television portrayal of alcohol use as a coping skill, and the belief that the use of alcohol to reduce life’s stress is socially acceptable. Another area in which alcohol is looked at as all right, comes during the aging process. The death of a spouse, job relocation, retirement, or loss of health put older people at risk of alcoholism and is identified as having late-onset alcoholism (McFarland 458).

Alcoholism can be divided into several subtypes. Gamma alcoholism applies to binge drinkers who alternate periods of sobriety and drunkenness. An example of gamma alcoholism would be a college student who engages in heavy binge drinking. In contrast, beta alcoholism is manifested by physical complications of chronic alcohol use such as cirrhosis, weakening of the liver, heart, stomach, and esophagus. An example of a beta alcoholic would be a housewife who is a maintenance drinker and experiences withdrawal symptoms. A number of issues also arises among characteristics of alcoholism. Behavioral problems are often visible signs. Poor school grades, rambling speech, disciplinary problems, excessive fighting, truancy, vandalism, and hyperactivity are all possible signs of alcoholism.

Alcoholism is a disease that is very serious and complicated. The curing of al

lcoholism is a difficult process which requires accepting the presence of the condition, self realization, and support. As a person begins to achieve control over their drinking problem, by implementing new coping strategies, and increasing a sense of competence and hope, a new phase of life is entered.

Alcohol is a drug and, like all drugs, it has an effect on a person’s body and mind. Because drinking alcoholic beverages makes some people feel more alive and more outgoing, alcohol is sometimes seen as a stimulant. But in fact it is a depressant, and slows down the central nervous system, of which the brain is a part.

Small amounts of alcohol can affect a person’s coordination and judgment. Drinking a large amount of alcohol at one time can even cause death. Alcohol is estimated to be contributing factor in 20-30% of all accidents. In fatal car accidents involving young men after 10pm it is a contributory factor in 60% of these cases. About 30% of all drowning are estimated to be alcohol related. This proportion may rise to 50% between the ages 20-30. Alcohol is also a poisonous. It must be broken down and removed from the body. However, it leaves behind toxins, or poisons, that ca

an cause health problems and contribute to serious diseases. Beer contains the least amount of alcohol, about 3-6%. Wine is 8-14 percent alcohol. Distilled spirits have a much higher alcoholic content. The alcoholic content of gin, scotch, vodka, whiskey, rum, and bourbon is about 40%. When alcohol enters the body this is what happens. Within 20 minutes of entering the stomach, as much as 20% of the alcohol in a drink is absorbed into the bloodstream. The rest remains in the stomach where it stimulates the secretion of gastric juices. Large amounts of alcohol entering an empty stomach can irritate the gastric lining and cause the stomach to become inflamed. From the stomach, the alcohol passes into the small intestine. Here the rest of it is absorbed through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. From the bloodstream, about 5 percent of alcohol leave the body unchanged through urine, sweat, or exhaled breath.

Next the alcohol travels via the bloodstream to the heart. Small amounts of alcohol produce a slight increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Larger amounts reduce pumping power of the heart and can cause an irregular heartbeat. The heart then pumps the alcohol through the blood vessels to other parts of the body, including the brain. Drinking puts on pounds, right? Wrong! It is widely thought that drinking alcohol leads to increases in weight, but this common belief is not supported by scientific evidence. For example, a recent review of 38 studies found that over two-thirds of them showed either weight loss or no relationship in alcohol and weight. The reason alcohol does not generally lead to weight gain is currently the subject of scientific debate and investigation. However, one thing is clear: the majority of medical research studies over the past ten years have found that moderate consumption of alcohol does not lead to weight gain. Recent Harvard study found the risk of death from all causes to be 21% to 28% lower among men who drank alcohol moderately compared to abstainers. (World Health Organization) Almost one half of seniors drink alcohol at least once a month, about 20% drink at least once a week. Nearly one third of ninth graders drink alcohol at least once a month 12% drink at least once a week. Regular use of alcohol has not changed significantly since 1989. Crime is inextricably related to alcohol and other drugs. (AOD) Alcohol is a key factor in up to 68% of manslaughter’s, 62% of assaults, 54% of murders or attempted murders, 48% of robberies, 44% of burglaries. In 1992 there were 6,839 deaths due to alcohol

Each and every case of FAS is a needless tragedy. Victims suffer serious physical deformities and often mental deficiencies. And, they suffer these problems for their entire lives. While most cases occur among alcoholics who consume alcohol heavily throughout their pregnancies, no one knows for certain what level of alcohol consumption is safe for a pregnant woman. Cirrhosis is probably the most widely recognized medical complication of chronic alcoholism. It is a grave and irreversible condition characterized by progressive replacement of healthy liver tissues with scars, which can lead to liver failure and death. There have been many procedures used to take precautions against irresponsible alcoholics. Police have taken action and have the power to breathalyse. Although this has helped catch drunk drivers the problem hasn’t stopped. The Police have asked for restrictions on breathtesting drivers to be removed. This would help them to use their powers more effectively both as a deterrent and also to target drunk drivers who remain undeterred. There is evidence that high profile breathtesting cuts casualty rates. An argument frequently implied by the alcohol industry against lowering the limit is that such a step would not effect casualties as road deaths tend to be caused primarily by drivers with very high blood alcohol levels who ignore a lower limit just as they ignore the present one.
The fact is that the number of alcohol related deaths occur when any level of alcohol is consumed. The same number of casualties occurs with a very low limit of alcohol in comparison to very high. Alcoholism can lead to many serious problems for the alcoholic and the people surrounding them. This is a disease that takes millions of lives every year and should be taken seriously. Alcoholism is a disease that can be helped. Many programs have been formed to help teach alcohol prevention. New laws and regulations provide a reinforcement to punish offenders, which may in the end teach them to stay sober. Whether you’re an alcoholic or not the facts are in print and the consequences remain, but the choice is yours.

Alcoholism is a wide-ranging and complex disease that heavily plagues society. Drinking is defined as the consumption of a liquid, and/or the act of drinking alcoholic beverages especially to excess. Every year alcohol is responsible for 1/2 of all murders, accidental deaths, and suicides; 1/3 of all drowning, boating, and aviation deaths; 1/2 of all crimes; and almost 1/2 of all fatal automobile accidents . Alcohol is a potent nonprescription drug sold to anyone over the national legal drinking age, 21. Unlike carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, which can be manufactured by the body, alcohol is a substance that is not made within the body. It is a food, because it supplies a concentrated number of calories, but is not nourishing and does not supply a significant amount of needed nutrients, vitamins, or minerals. These are empty calories that result in an unattractive “beer belly.” Most foods are prepared for digestion by the stomach so that their nutrients can be absorbed by the large intestine. However, 95% of alcohol is absorbed directly through the stomach walls or the walls of the duodenum (part of the small intestine nearest the stomach)and small intestine.
Various factors effect the speed of alcohol’s absorption into the body. – Watery drinks such as beer is absorbed more slowly. – Foods (especially fatty foods) delay absorption – Carbonated beverages speed up the emptying of the stomach into the small intestine where alcohol is absorbed more quickly. – The drinker’s physical and emotional state (fatigue, stress), and individual body chemistry affect absorption. – Gender: Women have less dehydrogenates (a chemical that breaks down alcohol in the stomach, so more alcohol is absorbed in the bloodstream. Within moments of ingestion, alcohol moves from the blood stream into every part of the body that contains water, including major organs like the brain, lungs, kidneys, and heart. Alcohol stimulates and agitates, depresses and sedates, produces calmness and tranquility, and begins a hypnotic state of drowsiness and sleep. Alcohol impairs your judgement, and strongly affects motor skills, muscle function, reaction time, eyesight, depth perception, and night vision. As a drinker continues to drink, alcohol depresses lung and heart function, slowing breathing and circulation. Death can occur if alcohol completely paralyzes breathing. However, this state is seldom reached because the body rejects alcohol by vomiting. Acute alcohol overdose leading to death occurs in colleges where individuals are encouraged to drink large amounts of alcohol rapidly. Relatively speaking, the twelve million U.S. College students drink over 430 million gallons of alcohol a year- that is 3,500 Olympic sized swimming pools filled with alcohol. Binge drinking is the number one public health hazard for more than six million college students in America. Only five percent of alcohol is eliminated from the body through the breath, urine, or sweat; the rest is broken down in the liver. In the Liver: -Alcohol is broken down in steps by enzymes until only carbon dioxide remain as by-products. -Alcohol is processed at the rate of three tenths of an ounce of pure ethanol per hour and unprocessed alcohol circulates in the body.

The liver’s fixed rate of alcohol breakdown means that drinking coffee or taking a cold shower does not speed the sobering process. Therefore, giving coffee to a person who is drunk may make a wide-awake drunk, who thinks he/she is sober enough to drive a car. Occasional users of alcohol, who are healthy, do not appear to suffer negative affects from use of alcohol. In moderate doses, alcohol has beneficial effects: relaxation, appetite stimulation. However, consumed in large amounts, alcohol is a toxin. The short-term result of the toxin is a hangover. A hangover has a combination of physical symptoms: -Headache: Blood vessels in the head, dilated by alcohol, painfully stretch as they return to their normal state. -Upset stomach: Alcohol irritates gastric lining. -Dehydration: Alcohol stimulates the kidneys to process and pass more water than is ingested. A hangover is a withdrawal state. The best hangover cure is aspirin, liquids, sleep, and time. Bland foods, especially liquids, may also help. The best prevention for hangover is moderation or abstinence from alcohol at all. The long-term results may develop into alcoholism and alcohol-related diseases. Alcohol has a direct toxic as well as sedative affects on the body, and failure to take care of nutritional and other physical needs during prolonged periods of excessive drinking may further complicate matters. Advanced cases often require hospitalization. The physical effects of alcohol abuse are wide ranging and complex. They include a wide range of digestive-system disorders such as ulcers, inflammation of the pancreas, and several liver diseases. The liver breaks down alcohol in the body and is therefore the major area for alcohol damage. Liver damage may occur in three irreversible stages: -Fatty Liver: Liver cells are worked in with abnormal fatty tissue, enlarging the liver. -Alcoholic Hepatitis: Liver cells swell, become inflamed, and die, causing blockage. -Cirrhosis: Fibrous scar tissue forms in place of healthy cells, obstructing the flow of blood through the liver. Various functions of the liver deteriorate with often fatal results. A diseased Liver: -Cannot convert stored glycogen into glucose, thus lowering blood sugars and producing hypoglycemia (an abnormally low level of glucose in the blood). -Inefficiently detoxifies the bloodstream and inadequately removes drugs, alcohol, and dead red blood cells. -Cannot manufacture bile (for fat digestion), prothrombin (for blood clotting and bruise prevention), and albumin. Alcohol in the liver also alters the production of digestive enzymes, preventing the absorption of fats and proteins and decreasing the absorption of the vitamins A, D, E, and K. The decreased production of these enzymes also causes diarrhea . Alcohol strongly disturbs the structure and function of the central nervous system, interrupting the ability to retrieve and integrate information. Even small amounts if alcohol affects the brains retrieving and processing abilities, while larger amounts interfere with the oxygen supply to the brain. Blackouts, hallucinations, and extreme tremors may occur. Alcohol abuse destroys brain cells and whether the damage can be reversed is unknown. Alcoholics who do not quit drinking decrease their life expectancy ten to fifteen years. Large amounts of alcohol may irritate the mouth, esophagus, and stomach. Alcohol increases the stomach’s digestive enzymes, which can irritate the stomach wall, producing heartburn, nausea, gastritis, and ulcers. The stomach of a chronic drinker loses the ability to adequately move food and expel it into the duodenum, leaving some food always in the stomach, causing sluggish digestion and vomiting. Alcohol may also inflame the small and large intestine. Moderate daily drinking may be good for the heart, but for many the risks outweigh the benefits. Even one binge may produce irregular heartbeats, and an alcohol abuser experience increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, heart arrhythmia, and heart disease. Alcohol may cause cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle). Growing evidence supports the theory, that alcoholism is a hereditary disease. Alcoholism, as appeased to merely excessive or irresponsible drinking, has been variously thought of as a symptom of psychological or social stress or as poor coping behavior. More recently, and probably more accurately, it has come to be viewed as a complex disease entity in its own right. With the acceptance of alcoholism as a disease, we have been able to develop new treatments, an understanding, and a way to recover. A vast majority of this research has focused on mutations in the enzymes that alcohol and may affect the body’s ability to excrete this toxin. Evidence shows there may be genetic factors that help determine whether a person will become and alcoholic. A child of an alcoholic has four times the risk of becoming an alcoholic compared with a child of nonalcoholic parents. There are two types of genetic alcoholics: 1) Male-limited susceptibility: Found mostly in males, this condition is passed on frequently and occurs at an early age. This type is associated with most criminal cases and often requires extensive therapy. 2) Milieu (environmental)-limited susceptibility: More common, this condition is found in both males and females. Although inherited, this type of alcoholism must be stimulated by environmental factors. Alcoholism usually develops over a period of years. Early and subtle symptoms include placing excessive importance on the availability of alcohol. Ensuring this availability strongly

influences the person’s choice of associates or activities. Alcohol becomes a staple in the abusers daily life. Initially, the alcoholic may demonstrate a high tolerance to alcohol, consuming more and showing less adverse effects than others may. Subsequently, however, the person begins to drink against his or her own best interests, as alcohol becomes more important than personal relationships, work, reputation, or even physical health. The person commonly loses control over drinking and is increasingly unable to predict how much alcohol will be consumed on a given occasion or, if the person currently abstaining, when the drinking will resume again. Physical addiction to the drug may occur, sometimes eventually leading to drinking around the clock to avoid withdrawal symptoms. In some cases the “diagnosis” of alcoholism is made by the courts, when a judge issues a drunken driving sentence that requires the offender to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), or enter a rehabilitation program. As the public becomes more aware of the nature of alcoholism, the social attractiveness attached to it decreases, alcoholics and their families tend to conceal it less, and diagnosis is not delayed long. Alcoholism has a good recovery rate once the alcoholic stops drinking. Treatment is provided in many different forms because there are many kinds of alcoholics. Treatment sources include hospitals, alcoholism units within hospitals, private clinics designed specifically for the care of alcoholics, residential alcoholic rehabilitation facilities, self-help groups such as Alcoholic Anonymous, and private practitioners such as alcoholism counselors, psychologists, psychiatric social workers, and psychiatrists. In addition to managing physical complications and withdrawal states, treatment involves individual counseling and group therapy techniques aimed at complete and comfortable abstinence from alcohol. Alcoholics Anonymous, a support group commonly used for those undergoing treatment, in many cases helps alcoholics to recover without extensive formal treatment. This organization of men and women help each other solve their common problem of alcoholism. They also offer to share their recovery experiences with others that have a drinking problem and want to do something about it. Such abstinence, according to the best current evidence, is the desired goal, despite some highly controversial suggestions that a safe return to social drinking is possible (LeClair 2). Despite these encouraging signs, estimates of the annual number of deaths related to excessive drinking exceed 97,000 in the United States alone. Economic costs related to alcoholism are at least 100 billion a year (LeClair 2). The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines moderate drinking as an average of not more than two drinks per day, and estimates that fifteen million adults (fifteen percent of the drinkers in the United States) consume more than that amount. The fifteen percent of men and three percent of women who ingest more than four drinks a day risk a serious drinking problem. Most problem drinkers are not presently receiving formal treatment apart from what Alcoholics Anonymous offers. The available treatments are most effective for socially stable, middle-class alcoholics and least effective for the homeless without families. The need to provide increasing services of better quality to those with alcoholism is urgent. The major burden of coping with this complex drug problem continues to fall on the individuals and families most directly affected. A further enlightened public policy on alcoholism addressing legal drinking ages, liquor labeling, laws governing drunk drivers and public education is still necessary.

Teen alcoholism and alcohol abuse are both serious situations that may occur in many young people’s lives. Alcoholism, which is a disease in which a person has a very strong desire to drink alcohol, and finds it hard to control the desire, and alcohol abuse, prolonged heavy alcohol use, are both too serious to fool around with, and should not be lightly dealt with.

Teen alcoholism is a disease in which the drinking of alcoholic beverages interferes with some aspects of a teen’s life. Alcohol is an addictive drug, and prolonged abuse of it can result in a chemical dependence, where the body is unable to function normally without the alcohol present. This dependence is not usually noticeable unless the teenager stops or dramatically cuts down drinking. Within 8 to 12 hours of not drinking, a withdrawal syndrome starts. Withdrawal syndromes are characterized by tremors, sweating, nausea, vomiting, sleep disturbances, and irritability, and can last for three to five days. In about two or three days after not drinking, the alcoholic may experience seizures or delirium tremens(DTs), which can be fatal.

Alcohol could be one of the most harmful products known to humankind. Alcohol abuse is alcohol use that results in physical, social, intellectual, emotional, legal, or financial problems. Alcoholism is an overwhelming desire to drink alcohol even though it is causing harm. As well it includes alcohol craving, continued drinking despite repeated alcohol related problems, and tolerance, the need to increase the amount of alcohol drunk to feel its effect.

Teen drinking is a serious problem. Alcohol abuse and addiction are not instantaneous; it takes time to build up the tolerance, and eventually, the dependence on the drug. However, that time is much less for teenagers than it is for adults. For youths, it can take as little as one to two years to become dependent on alcohol. Alcoholism takes the teenager’s control away. They can no longer control how much they drink, or what they do while drinking. The alcoholism takes over the young person.

Teenage Drinking

Millions of American teenagers drink alcohol. Over 60 percent of high school seniors drink at least once a week. Alcohol is the most common drug used by teenagers. Alcohol has special risks for this age group. Alcohol can be a “gateway” drug, leading to other drug use. Some teenagers may develop serious drinking problems, even alcoholism. Studies indicate that about half of the children of alcoholic parents will become alcoholic themselves. Some teenagers say they got “hooked” the first time they took a drink.

Teenagers drink for many reasons. Some grow up seeing their parents or other adults drinking. They also see television or magazine ads that make alcohol attractive. Often these ads have a sports celebrity enjoying some type of alcohol. There is often pressure from friends or classmates to drink. A teenager may drink to fit in with friends, or to appear more popular, confident or mature.

If a teenager is having anxiety, depression, or confusion, they may use alcohol to manage these feelings. Other situations that can cause a teenager to develop a drinking problem are:
* other family members with drinking problems,
* the divorce of his or her parents,
* physical or sexual abuse, or
* the death of a parent or sibling.

There are some warning signs concerned adults can watch for in a teenager. These signs may show if a teenager has or is developing a serious drinking problem:
* Avoiding family or friends.
* Staying out of school, sometimes several days at a time. Cutting classes or falling grades.

* Losing interest in activities or hobbies.
* Hanging out with a new, often older, crowd.
* Frequent hangovers, constant tiredness, confusion, depression, or blackouts (not remembering where he or she was).
* Getting into fights or arguing constantly with parents.

It may be hard to admit that a teenager you love is out of control with alcohol. Sometimes it helps to share your concerns with the school counselor, your healthcare provider, or a member of the clergy. Other professionals who work with teenagers with drinking problems can be found at hospitals, mental health centers, alcoholism treatment centers, or in private offices. To learn more about teenage drinking, call the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (800) NCA-CALL. Consult the phone book for Al-A-Teen. Al-A-Teen meetings offer teenagers support from other teens who are trying to stay sober.


Alcohol has many effects on a teenager’s body, such as low activity of the nervous system, loss of self control, mental confusion, inability to walk properly, delirium tremens, and memory gaps. Alcohol seriously affects a teen’s concentration. It impairs the rate at which the brain can process information, making it difficult for the brain to concentrate properly. An unexpected situation requires a teenager’s quick attention judgment and reaction. Under the influence of alcohol, this is impossible.
Though all nerves in a teenager’s body are affected by alcohol, the region hardest hit is the brain; chronic drinking kills brain cells. Over years, the brain can show physical signs of withering away. In addition, long-term drinking can alter brain structures and reduce blood supply to the brain. After a long period of time, brain cells are destroyed. Some youths who drink heavily can fall into a coma and die.
Prolonged drinking also has harmful effects on a young person’s liver. While alcohol is present in the liver, the breakdown of fats in the liver is slowed down to a stop. The fat accumulates in liver cells, and grows into large clusters. These can rupture, or turn into cysts that replace healthy liver cells. After years of drinking, scar tissue from ruptured cells builds up so much as to block normal blood flow through the liver. This condition is known as cirrhosis, and can result in liver failure.

Advertisements on TV, radio and in newspapers and magazines contribute to teen alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Alcoholic coolers are also displayed in grocery stores next to fruit drinks, suggesting to teenagers that drinking them is as harmless as drinking fruit juices. In many cases, abuse of alcohol and a tendency to be violent may stem from a common cause. This may be a temperamental trait such as a risk-seeking personality, or a social environment where drinking is common and accepted. Some scientists argue that alcoholism frequently has a genetic origin, that is, the compulsion to drink alcohol is a characteristic passed on from parents to their children; some researchers believe certain alcoholics may have inherited and may be born with a reduced level of endorphin which would cause this compulsion. Endorphins are morphine-like substances in the brain that relieve feelings of stress and pain. Young people who lack sufficient endorphins may drink compulsively to recover feelings of joy and comfort.
Scientists say that teen alcoholism can be hereditary. People who begin drinking before the age of fifteen are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin at age twenty-one. Teens may use alcohol to relieve stress and take away their problems, but the misuse of alcohol could be their biggest problem of all.
Some causes for teen alcohol abuse and alcoholism are problems at work, such as the loss of a job, part-time or full-time, problems at home such as a family’s financial problems which could cause young people to turn to alcohol for comfort. A death in the family may cause some youths to choose alcohol to help them cope with the loss of a loved one. Another cause for teen alcohol abuse and alcoholism is stress in the family such as depression, a violent temper, divorce or a court case.

Reasons Teens Drink

Teenage life is one of the most stressful periods of life. Teens begin to hold more and more responsibilities. A lot is expected of them. All this stress, when taken into account with lack of experience, and often a lack of education, can lead to poor decisions. Peer pressure is another serious reason why teenagers drink. When a drink is put into their hands at a party by their friends, many young people simply cannot say no to their peers. There are many other reasons that teens drink alcohol, though. For some, the sheer fact that drinking is illegal makes them do it. Some are influenced by role models through their parents, their friends, or movie and television characters. Some think it makes them more attractive, popular, or funny. Some do it to relieve stress, anxiety, loneliness, rejection, depression, or any other of the strong, crazy, mixed-up feelings which often flare up in a teen’s life. Teenagers may drink because of problems at home or school. Money problems can also contribute to young people turning to alcohol.

Teens may drink to feel relaxation and freedom from tension. There are probably about 10,000 teens that will try alcohol for the first time in their life from today till tomorrow. Those 10,000 teens could try because of curiosity to see what it tastes like, or could just like the taste of it. Other teenagers could drink because of family problems, or because other family members drink.

There are many reasons teens decide to drink; some teenagers just don’t know how to say ‘no’ to others. Many teens are curious about alcohol. What other family members say about alcohol can change a teen’s point of view. Family customs, like alcohol being a part of family gatherings or a right of passage can play a role in influencing young people to use alcohol. The availability of alcohol may be a factor in drinking. Advertisements about alcohol in magazines, newspapers, and on radio and TV can also affect a teen’s view of drinking.

Some teens believe they can make life bearable by drinking. Other teenagers drink because of curiosity, they see other family members drink, or they might not know how to say “no” to others. Some young people have very little knowledge about the effects of alcohol. Teens may think that everybody drinks. Some teenagers think they should drink at sports and social functions. Families may have problems or family members may say it’s okay to drink.

Teenagers use alcohol for many reasons. Some youths drink to help them cope with their problems. Some feel that it helps them to relax and fit in. Young people might also drink because of stress at home or at school. Depression, peer pressure, and advertising all contribute to the problem of teen alcohol abuse.

Teenagers drink for many different reasons. One reason is that it is available and easy to buy for all ages. Some teens drink because they think it is the only way to solve their problems. Some youths drink for social reasons, like going to parties and other social gatherings. Peer pressure may cause teenagers to start drinking. Or they are not content with their lives and want to become happy; so they turn to alcohol.

Teens drink for many reasons, but most drink because of peer pressure, thinking that the only way to get in or hang with friends is drinking. To gain self confidence, others use drinking for a way to get away from their parents; some just like the taste. Also, they may drink to relieve or forget about certain problems which can also lead to causing more problems, depending on how much they drank. Others use alcohol to feel better.

Some problems or situations may encourage teenagers to drink; environmental factors such as peer pressure and the easy availability of alcohol can play a key role. Although alcohol abuse and alcoholism can strike any young person, poverty and physical or sexual abuse also increase the odds of young people drinking alcohol. For some teens, psychological traits such as impulsiveness, low self-esteem and a need for approval, prompt drinking. Others may drink as a way of coping with emotional pain. Some youths use alcohol to “medicate” problems.


There are two different types of medications that are commonly used to treat alcoholism in young people. The first are tranquilizers called lenzopedia (e.g. Valium, Librium), which are used only during the first few days of treatment to help them safely withdraw from alcohol. A second type of medication is used to help teens remain sober. A recently approved medicine for this purpose is maltrexon. When used together with counselling , this medication lessens the craving for alcohol, and helps prevent a return to drinking. Another treatment is Alcoholics Anonymous which is where people addicted to alcohol share experiences and support with other alcoholics.

Treatment for teen alcoholism includes providing for the physical and emotional needs of the young person, and therapy. Rehabilitation programs such as Al-Anon, Alcoholics Anonymous and Alateen have played an important role in addicts overcoming alcoholism.

There are many places for young alcoholics to go to get help staying sober. Alateen helps people from the ages of twelve to twenty. It not only helps teens who drink, it also helps children with alcoholic parents to deal with many problems. Alcoholics Anonymous is an organization that helps alcoholics face their addiction to alcohol and get sober. Adult Children of Alcoholics help adults who grew up with alcoholic parents. Teen alcoholics can be treated for their addiction at rehabilitation centers as an outpatient or in some cases need to be admitted to the hospital to help them get through withdrawal, which can be very painful for some people.

Alcohol abuse

Alcohol is something that a lot of young people experiment with and there can be both good sides and bad sides to drinking. Some people drink to relax, have fun, and to be sociable, but drinking too much can also make people lose control, take dangerous risks, and injure themselves (or others).

Drinking a lot of alcohol in one go (known as ‘binge drinking’) is very risky and can be a lot more harmful than drinking a small amount from time to time. Children and young people can easily become intoxicated (drunk) because their bodies are smaller and less able to deal with the alcohol. They can also fall into comas, develop very low blood sugar levels, low body temperatures, or breathing problems if they drink too much. The signs of dangerously low blood sugar levels (shakes, doziness, hard to rouse from sleep) can be hard to detect because they resemble the typical symptoms of drinking alcohol so children and young people need to be particularly careful.

I’m sure you have also heard of the dreadful ‘hangover’. Hangovers happen after a heavy night of drinking and the body becomes dehydrated and low in blood sugar causing headaches, vomiting and other symptoms. Over time, binge drinking can also lead to health problems such as:

• Liver damage

• Heart failure

• Increased risk of tuberculosis/pneumonia

• Inflammation of the pancreas

• Inflammation of the stomach

• High blood pressure

• Fertility problems

• Impaired kidney function

• Urinary infections

The symptoms you describe in your letter may suggest possible kidney problems although these problems usually don’t appear until later in life. If you haven’t done so already, I would strongly advise you to see your doctor (GP) as soon as possible to get a proper diagnosis.
Guidelines to responsible drinking
It is impossible to stop young people from drinking alcohol, but you should be aware of sensible drinking guidelines that allow you to drink safely and avoid drunkenness.

• If you are under 18 years old it is illegal for you to buy alcohol or be served alcohol in a bar. If you are 16-17 years old you may buy certain drinks but only in a separate eating area and you can only drink alcohol with a meal.
• The daily allowance is currently 3-4 units for men and 2-3 units for women. The maximum levels for children have not yet been set but remember young people’s bodies are not able to handle as much alcohol as adults.
• To help you with the measurements, one unit is: ½ pint of ordinary strength beer, 1 small glass of wine, or 1 pub measure of spirits.
• Remember not to drink on an empty stomach – the alcohol will affect you more quickly if your stomach is empty.
It is important to remember that drinking too much not only endangers you but also the people around you. If you follow the above guidelines you will be able to drink alcohol safely whilst still enjoying your time out with friends and family.

Alcoholism can lead to many serious problems for the alcoholic and the people surrounding them. This is a disease that takes millions of lives every year and should be taken seriously. Alcoholism is a disease that can be helped. Many programs have been formed to help teach alcohol prevention. New laws and regulations provide a reinforcement to punish offenders, which may in the end teach them to stay sober. Whether you’re an alcoholic or not the facts are in print and the consequences remain, but the choice is yours.


1. Grossman M. The Demand for Health, Alcohol, National Bureau of Economic
Research Occassional Paper No 119. New York: Columbia
University Press, 1972.

2. Vylder Stephan de. Sustainable Human Development and Macroeconomics
Strategic Link and Implications. UNDP, New York, 1995.

3. Bourdieu P. The forms of Capital. In Richardson J. G. (ed) Handbook
of theory and Research for Sociology of Education. New York: Greenwood, 1985, p. 248.

4. Coleman J. Social Capital // Foundations of Social Theory.
Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London: The Belknap Press and
Harvard University Press, 1990, p. 302.




Leave a Comment