In the modern day age, with the advent in time and availability, teenage drinking has emerged as a major problem. A number of factors, including the glamorization of drinking in popular media, peer pressure, and stressful work conditions, are responsible for this. Some even take it to be a part of the liberal culture and see it as a way to express rebellion. Alcohol, however, has a number of adverse effects on teenagers, ranging from health problems to socio-cultural maladjustment.
In this article we have discussed how alcohol is affecting the young generation:
Impact on health
Effect on the brain:
Alcohol consumption is especially detrimental for teenagers, because of the impact it has on the brain, which is still in the stage of development. It can have an adverse impact on memory and motor coordination. People, who start drinking in their early teens, are more likely to have problems in learning, attention, and perception. They are also more likely to have problems in concentration and are usually more fidgety than their nondrinking peers.
The earlier one starts drinking alcohol, the more likely one is to develop dependence. This is because the link between alcohol and stress release or happiness is established early in life, and teenagers are then less likely to try alternate ways of dealing with stress.
Another reason is physiological dependence- the body, from a very early age, becomes habituated to alcohol, and thus greater levels of alcohol are needed subsequently, to achieve the same “high”. A contributing factor, which is especially worth noting, is that the effect of alcohol is not immediately apparent, and the costs are for long term. To the teenage mind, the short-term benefits (stress relieve due to the “high”, fitting in peer groups, and the glamour quotient of it) are more appealing than the long-term costs, making them more susceptible to abuse and eventual dependence.
Effect on endocrine functioning:
Teenage drinking can also delay puberty, and have an adverse impact on the endocrine system, leading to a deficiency in certain hormones. The delay of puberty, itself can be a stress factor, which again reinforces drinking, (teenagers are not likely to form a causal link between the delay of puberty and drinking), and this forms a vicious cycle.
People, who start drinking in their early teens, are also more likely to binge drink, i.e. have more than five pegs, for boys, and four pegs, for girls. Binge drinking, which may lead to blackouts, being unconscious, or passing out, is especially dangerous. In addition to security problems, it may also lead to alcohol poisoning, which is potentially fatal.
Binge drinking and mixing drinks, can also lead to predicaments in the gastrointestinal functioning. This means that teenagers who binge drink or experiment with their drinks are more likely to vomit are more susceptible to stomach ulcers and gastroenteritis, in addition to kidney and liver damage.
Contrary to the teenage belief, consuming alcohol can lead to a number of social problems, keeping in mind the fact that teenagers are more likely to binge drink and develop dependency.
Teenagers, who indulge in drinking, are more likely to miss school, or lag behind in school, compared to their contemporaries. Another problem is that, under the influence of alcohol, they tend to engage in violent, impulsive, and sensation seeking behavior. Driving under the influence of alcohol is one such example. A majority of road accidents and deaths due to road accidents, in teenagers, is due to drunk-driving.
Irresponsible sexual behavior:
Teenagers, who abuse alcohol, are also more likely to engage in unprotected sex, which can lead to pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. This is because alcohol adversely impacts cognitive judgment and thus lowers inhibitions. Engaging in irresponsible sexual behavior can have long-term effects on psyche and health. They are also likely to compromise on security and put themselves in a vulnerable position, in the state of intoxication.
Therefore, in conclusion, it can be said that alcohol can have disastrous influences on teenagers. It is important to recognize drinking behavior early and must talk to them about responsible drinking. The channels of communication between parents, teachers, and teenagers should thus be turned open.