Alcohol and Teenagers

Despite the fact that drinking alcohol is illegal under 18 or 21 in almost every country around the world, research shows many teenagers use alcohol. Alcohol intake and regularity of alcohol consumption among adolescents varies across the different countries. However, it is a well-known fact that teenagers drink in spite of the laws and measures taken to prevent alcohol consumption among young people. Underage drinking can result in health problems and injuries affecting the teenagers that drink, as well as the people around them.

In the UK research shows that by the time they reach 15, over eight out of ten Britons have already tried alcohol. In Australia about 90 percent of teenagers older than 14 have tried alcohol at least once, while about 50 percent of the population above the age of 14 is estimated to be drinking alcohol at least once a week.

According to studies, the development of the human brain continues into a person's early twenties. When the brain is exposed to alcohol while it is developing this can cause long-lasting harm on intellectual capabilities and may make alcohol addiction more likely. The risk of alcohol dependence later in life is reduced by 14 percent for each year that the age when drinking starts is delayed. The number of people dying from liver disease has also increased, which is believed to be a result of more people starting to drink at an earlier age.

Car crashes are one of the main risks related to underage drinking. The driving skills of young people are more likely to be affected by alcohol. The likelihood of a fatal crash for drinking drivers aged between 16 and 20 is twice as high as the likelihood for drinking drivers aged 21 or above. According to the US Surgeon General, around 1,900 people aged below 21 die every year as a result of car crashes that involve underage drinking.

Alcohol consumption affects conditions like stress and depression, contributing to 300 suicides among US teenagers every year. High-school students who drink are two times as likely to have seriously considered a suicide attempt as compared to nondrinkers. High-school students, who are prone to excessive use of alcohol, or binge drinking, are four times as likely to have attempted suicide as compared to nondrinkers.

Sexual behavior is also affected by alcohol consumption, which can have negative consequences for teenagers. Sexual activity among drinking teenagers is likely to be higher than among teenagers who do not drink. Adolescents who drink are also more likely to have sex with someone they do not know or fail to use birth control and engage in other risky sexual activities.

Use of alcohol can also lead to risky situations including fighting or brawling, drowning and self-harm, while young people are more likely to take risks when they drink. When people combine alcohol and drugs they are likely to take more risks. Alcohol consumption can also lead to a drug overdose.

Alcohol plays an important role in antisocial behavior, violence and crime. According to a Home Office survey, 18 percent of young people aged 12-13 in the UK and 28 percent of those aged 14-15 caused damage while drinking. In addition, 10 percent of young people aged 15-15 said that they had got in trouble with the police as a result of drinking.

Parents are believed to play a key role in preventing teenagers from drinking at an early age. According to a review of evidence conducted on behalf of the Department of Children, Schools and Families, alcohol abuse among children who drink alcohol for the first time at home and are told about its effects from their parents is less likely than among those who start drinking outside their home and experiment with their friends.

Teenagers' experiments with alcohol are hard to prevent, but parents can encourage their children to drink sensibly. For teenagers and for young people aged below 15 in particular, the safest level of drinking is no drinking. Parents can provide adult supervision and encourage the sensible consumption of alcohol in order to minimise the risks for older teenagers who drink. Parents should also demonstrate sensible drinking habits because, according to studies, they are the most influential role model for their children.

Factors that help make alcohol abuse among young people less likely also include educational programs in schools on alcohol, a healthy lifestyle and development of personal, academic, social and employment skills. Restricted alcohol advertising can also help, while scare tactics can actually result in an increase in alcohol use among young people and should be avoided.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Alcohol's Effects on Adolescents
Spear, Linda Patia.
Alcohol Research, Vol. 26, No. 4, Winter 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Impact of Social, Economic and Genetic Factors on Students' Alcohol Consumption Decisions
Paul, Manimoy; Smith-Hunter, Andrea.
Academy of Information and Management Sciences Journal, Vol. 14, No. 2, July 1, 2011
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
A Meta-Analysis of Marijuana and Alcohol Use by Socio-Economic Status in Adolescents Aged 10-15 Years
Lemstra, Mark; Bennett, Norman R.; Neudorf, Cory; Kunst, Anton; Nannapaneni, Ushasri; Warren, Lynne M.; Kershaw, Tanis; Scott, Christina R.
Canadian Journal of Public Health, Vol. 99, No. 3, May/June 2008
The Influence of Cultural Identification, Religiosity, and Self-Esteem on Alcohol Use among African American, Hispanic, and White Adolescents
Taylor, Matthew J.; Walker, Terrance L.; Austin, Chammie C.; Thoth, Candace A.; Welch, Desiree Z.
The Western Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 35, No. 2, Spring 2011
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Adolescent Psychosocial Maturity and Alcohol Use: Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis of Longitudinal Data
Adalbjarnardottir, Sigrun.
Adolescence, Vol. 37, No. 145, Spring 2002
The Alcohol-Related Psychosocial and Behavioral Risks of a Nationally Representative Sample of Adolescents. (Research Papers)
Maney, Dolores W.; Higham-Gardill, D. A.; Mahoney, Beverly S.
Journal of School Health, Vol. 72, No. 4, April 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Alcohol Use and Depression among African-American and Caucasian Adolescents
Maag, John W.; Irvin, Deborah M.
Adolescence, Vol. 40, No. 157, Spring 2005
Understanding the Dimensions of Parental Influence on Alcohol Use and Alcohol Refusal Efficacy among African American Adolescents
Clark, Trenette T.; Nguyen, Anh B.; Belgrave, Faye Z.; Tademy, Raymond.
Social Work Research, Vol. 35, No. 3, September 2011
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Best Friends Affect Teen Drinking
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The Science Teacher, Vol. 80, No. 3, March 2013
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Influence of Marketing and Alcohol Use in Adolescents
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Nutrition Health Review, No. 98, January 1, 2008
Current State of Treatment for Alcohol and Other Drug Use Disorders in Adolescents
Deas, Deborah; Clark, Andrew.
Alcohol Research, Vol. 32, No. 1, January 1, 2009
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Study: Teenagers Exposed to Alcohol Ads Drink More
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Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Vol. 23, No. 1, February 23, 2006
The Contextual Effect of School Attachment on Young Adolescents' Alcohol Use
Henry, Kimberly L.; Slater, Michael D.
Journal of School Health, Vol. 77, No. 2, February 2007
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
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