According to survey carried out in 2009, just over half of American youths between the ages of 12 and 20 claimed that they regularly consumed alcohol (Edwin and Harald 10). Alcohol abuse is a major issue among today’s youth and a solution needs to be found to eradicate the growing problem.
Despite the introduction of tougher laws against underage drinking, the issue has actually worsened (binge). One of the key problems with underage drinking is that a teenage brain isn’t fully developed in terms of judgement. As a result of this, adolescents are well-known for making bad decisions and choosing to do the wrong thing. These bad decisions can involve experimenting with alcohol or drugs (binge).
Developmental changes in children, for example as puberty, have been associated with underage drinking. Adolescents often enjoy trying new and potentially dangerous experiences. Experimenting with alcohol is one example of this behaviour.
Environmental factors, such as parental and peer influence, can also contribute to alcohol abuse among adolescents. For example, when parents are heavy drinkers, their children will often follow suit and drink more themselves (Norah 19). Furthermore there may be hereditary elements to this argument: a child who has alcoholic parents may be predisposed to experiencing problems with alcohol during their lives.
Media advertising can be another reason of drinking behaviours among young people. When alcohol is promoted through a positive message about drinking, young people often wish to replicate this image. Furthermore, they may wish to purchase alcoholic products featuring a specific fashionable logo.
Children who start drinking at a young age have been found to be aggressive, hyperactive, depressed and withdrawn. These young people may be at high risk of developing alcohol dependency problems. An individual’s attitudes towards alcohol and its consequences can also affect their likelihood to form a drinking habit. In this way, a young person who views drinking as an enjoyable experience is more probable to drink than one who doesn't (Dodge et al.16).
It has also been claimed underage binge drinking can be attributed to differences between a fully matured brain of an adult and the brain of growing adolescent. This may explain why many young drinkers have the ability to drink larger quantities of alcohol than adults, before feeling negative effects such as drowsiness and depression(Bonnie et. al. 29).
Aside from being illegal, underage drinking presents risks to both the adolescent in question and to society. For example, there is an higher rate of alcohol-related road traffic incidents in drivers aged from sixteen to twenty then there is for drivers of twenty-one and over (alcoholism).
Adolescent drinkers are susceptible to alcohol–induced brain damage: this can lead to poor performance in work or school.
Adolescents also are vulnerable to alcohol, which could contribute to underachieving at school or work. Furthermore, underage drinking is linked to an increased chance of acquiring alcohol dependence in later life. Early intervention is crucial to avoid the development of severe alcohol problems among young people between the ages of twelve and twenty (alcoholism).
In conclusion, Alcohol abuse among minors is a growing problem in America, and it can be blamed on many different factors. Nevertheless, a solution needs to found and put in place to try and reverse this increasing trend.
Barry Stimmel. The Effects of maternal alcohol and drug abuse on the newborn: Advances in
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Bonnie, J.R et al. Reducing underage drinking: a collective responsibility. N.p: National
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Dodge, R., Benedict, F. and Wells, F. Psychological effects of alcohol. The New York Public
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Edvin, D. and Harald,S. Underage Drinking: Examining and Preventing Youth Use of
Alcohol: Alcohol and drug abuse. Np: Nova Science Pub Inc. 2010.
Norah Piehl. Underage Drinking: Social issues firsthand. Np: Greenhaven press, 2010.
“Binge Drinking Statistics in America”. PR Log. 18 March. 2011.
Alcoholism. 18 March. 2011. http://alcoholism.about.com/library/blnaa59.htm