Teenagers who consume alcoholic beverages on a regular basis place themselves in grave danger for many reasons. When they make the decision to get behind the wheel of a car, they place themselves and others in their path in grave danger. There is also a serious risk of addiction for many teens who consume these beverages consistently. In addition, this behavior may be a negative influence on the teenager and his or her family, health, and social surroundings. Therefore, the impact of teenage drinking on this population group must be addressed in greater detail in order to identify the specific areas where teenagers may experience negative consequences as a result of this continued behavior. The following discussion will consider how teenage drinking as a social problem with severe and debilitating consequences for this population group and the surrounding environment.
Teenagers who consume alcohol regularly or even intermittently face tremendous challenges as a result of this behavior. For many teenagers, alcohol leads to brain dysfunction and other impairments that are difficult to overcome, particularly since the human brain is still developing during this period of the life span (OJJDP, 2012). Therefore, many teenagers may experience memory lapses, poor judgment, and poor decision-making capabilities while under the influence of alcohol (OJJDP, 2012). It is important to recognize the burden of alcohol abuse on healthcare and social welfare, as many teenagers require healthcare treatment and possible rehabilitation, which leads to higher costs over time (OJJDP, 2012). Many teenagers also get behind the wheel and place themselves at risk of accidents, including the risk of fatalities (OJJDP, 2012). Finally, for many teenagers who abuse alcohol, they are at a greater risk of deviant sexual behaviors, which may lead to unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (OJJDP, 2012). Therefore, it is necessary to consider these concerns and how they impact the lives of teenagers to promote efforts to prevent teenage drinking within this population group.
Teenagers who drink alcohol face other challenges as a result of this choice. For example, this group of teens often experiences problems in the context of poor behaviors that may lead to such factors as delinquency and other related issues, such as drug use (Buddy T, 2012). In addition, a prior study indicated that “Adolescents who reported that they drank heavily were four times more likely to commit theft outside the home than non-drinking adolescents; heavy drinkers among 12 to 17-year-olds were three times more likely to report deliberately trying to hurt or kill themselves than the adolescent non-drinkers; and adolescent heavy drinkers were three times more likely to report having gotten into a physical fight than non-drinkers” (Buddy T, 2012). Therefore, it is important to recognize the challenges associated with teenage drinking and how this practice has many negative consequences for teens and often challenges their ability to perform well in school and to be a full contributing member of the family unit in the home environment, as well as in engagement with their peers (Buddy T, 2012). In this context, it is necessary to consider the issue of alcoholism and how it impacts teens from other perspectives because there are significant factors associated with long term success if alcohol is a key component of the teenage experience (Buddy T, 2012).
In spite of the common occurrences of teenage drinking within this population group, it is important to recognize that alcohol should be taken seriously as a problem that impacts this group, and not merely a “phase” of growing up (Casa Palmera, 2013). From this perspective, it is evident that teenagers possess considerable obstacles in their teen years, such as peer pressure and other factors; therefore, there is likely to be a greater tendency to consume alcohol in an attempt to forget these experiences and to numb the pain (Casa Palmera, 2013). This behavior, in turn, may lead to other consequences and factors that could cause permanent and irreversible damage in the teenage population (Casa Palmera, 2013). Therefore, it is necessary for parents, teachers, and other adult influences in the lives of children to be fully aware of these issues and how they impact teens in favor of producing effective outcomes and successful transitions during the teenage years (Casa Palmera, 2013).
Teenage drinking often leads to other negative outcomes that are difficult to overcome, such as the risk of suicide, depression, and the potential risk of driving under the influence (NIAAA, 2006). From this perspective, it is evident that there are many factors to consider in addressing alcohol abuse in the teenage population that should delve deeper into the different areas of this population group and how these behaviors impact their lives, such as the family dynamic and peer pressure (NIAAA, 2006). In addition, it is known that “Children who begin to drink at a very early age (before age 12) often share similar personality characteristics that may make them more likely to start drinking. Young people who are disruptive, hyperactive, and aggressive—often referred to as having conduct problems or being antisocial—as well as those who are depressed, withdrawn, or anxious, may be at greatest risk for alcohol problems. Other behavior problems associated with alcohol use include rebelliousness, difficulty avoiding harm or harmful situations, and a host of other traits seen in young people who act out without regard for rules or the feelings of others (i.e., disinhibition)” (NIAAA, 2006). With these areas in mind, it is important to identify the reasons why teenagers consume alcohol because these concerns represent a much larger opportunity to explore the different dimensions of the teenage experience that are difficult to manage from the social and psychological perspectives, such as peer influences and family problems (NIAAA, 2006).
From a neurological perspective, it is known that “teen binge drinking can lead to poor performance in school, difficulty in simple math or the inability to read a map. They also dispel the notion that a person could sustain heavy drinking for several years before causing neurological damage. Adolescent alcohol abuse and dependence may prove to be more damaging than alcoholism in adulthood by killing brain cells in the hippocampus, blocking brain receptors that form memories and causing protracted neurological impairments” (American Psychological Association, 2001). From this perspective, it becomes necessary to promote the awareness of possible long-term brain damage as a result of teenage drinking because this type of risk may alter the behavior of some teens who realize that the risks associated with drinking are not worth it (American Psychological Association, 2001). In addition, the continued presence of drinking in the lives of teenagers also represents a means of exploring new directions in research to expand the focus on brain damage and psychological and emotional functioning as a result of alcohol abuse because these areas should be of primary concern for the teenage population (American Psychological Association, 2001).
Teenage drinking also conveys a probable sense of desperation and confusion on the part of some of these individuals, particularly when they face issues in the home environment or at school that may negatively impact their health and wellbeing. This is an important observation that should also consider the long-term impact of these behaviors on teens, their families, their peers, and on their academic performance and social experiences. It is necessary to consider these challenges because teenagers must reflect upon these conditions and how they impact behavior and performance over the long term. It is evident that many teenagers experience the negative impacts associated with drinking for the rest of their lives; therefore, it is important to identify these experiences and to reduce these risks as much as possible.
Teenage drinking is a common yet challenging behavioral trend that occurs throughout this population group for many different reasons. This type of behavior may lead to a number of negative consequences, such as poor performance in school, the slow destruction of brain cells, the risk associated with driving under the influence, and other related factors. Therefore, adults and other influences in the lives of teenagers must be aware of the extent of this problem and should monitor teens to identify any possible areas where this behavior may lead to permanent and lasting consequences. Many teenagers take this behavior too far and it may cause considerable harm and irreparable damage to those who are impacted by these events. Therefore, it is necessary to monitor these events and to take these issues seriously in an effort to produce effective outcomes for the teenage population in order to reduce the risks of this type of behavior over the long term.
The development of a successful strategy to combat teenage drinking requires an effective understanding of the severity of this problem and how it impacts the teenage population on a widespread basis. This is a highly relevant issue and requires much consideration from many groups in order to accomplish these objectives in a successful manner. For parents, teachers, and other adult influences, it is necessary to establish a precedent in order to effectively address the issue of teenage drinking because it may lead to serious long term consequences for many teenagers. This issue must be addressed not as a short-term problem, but as an issue that may impact teenagers during this vulnerable period and well into their adult years because it may lead to a variety of negative concerns at home, at school, and in peer-based environments in different ways.
American Psychological Association (2012). Teen drinking more dangerous than previously thought. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/jun01/teendrink.aspx
Buddy T. (2012). Teen drinking and behavior problems: teens who drink get into more trouble, study finds. Retrieved from http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/teens/a/aa000307.htm
Casa Palmera (2013). The effects of alcohol abuse on teens. Retrieved from http://casapalmera.com/the-effects-of-alcohol-abuse-on-teens/
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2006). Underage drinking. Retrieved from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA67/AA67.htm
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (2012). Effects and consequences of underage drinking. Retrieved from http://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/237145.pdf