How much alcohol do teens use?
Alcohol is the most frequently used drug by teenagers in most countries including Australia mainly because most of the teenagers who drink do not do so moderately, but rather binge drink.
The culture of binge drinking has become an extremely problematic one in Oz, with most teenagers drinking to unacceptable levels causing them to engage in dangerous activities which threaten their health and wellbeing.
There are some dangerous effects on teenagers that are more problematic and commonly occurring than others which include:
- A decreased ability to pay attention, this makes tasks difficult and makes them more likely to be involved in accidents
- Teenagers that consistently binge drink are more likely to have difficulties with memory which may affect their academic career
- Unlike adults, teenagers who abuse alcohol tend to do so with other substances such as marijuana.
- Male teens thatdrink heavily tend to complete fewer years of education compared to male teens who do not.
- The younger a person is when they begin drinking, the more likely they are to develop a problem with alcohol later on in life.
- Younger adults who tend to binge drink also cause a number of car crashes each year.
A study in the USA found that more than 3 times the number of girls in the eighth grade who drank heavily admitted to having attempted suicide as compared to girls in the same grade that did not drink. This could indicate one of two things, obviously these girls are suffering from emotional problems, the question is whether they are using alcohol to self-medicate and escape their adolescent problems or whether alcohol was causing them to be more depressed.
This same American study found that teenagers who drink are more likely to engage in sexual activity, have unprotected sex, have sex with a stranger or be the victim or perpetrator of a sexual assault.
Parents should also remember that drinking in excess can lead to the use of other drugs. It is commonly referred to as a “gateway drug” because it can open the door for other illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin.
Adequate parental supervision has also been found to be a deterrent to alcohol use in youthbut obviously parents cannot be with their kids all day every day especially as they grow older. According to experts clear communication between parents and teenagers about the negative effects of alcohol on teens as well as setting a good example for teens in terms of moderate and responsible drinking habits, have been found to significantly decrease alcohol use in teens.
Parents who suspect that their teens are drinking should look out for the following signs of intoxication:
- smell of alcohol on their breath or skin,
- glazed or bloodshot eyes,
- the person being unusually passive or argumentative,
- deterioration in the person’s appearance or hygiene.
- other symptoms of intoxication include flushed skin and memory loss.
Parents who demonstrate responsible behaviour and drink moderately and responsibly are the best teachers for children to learn good drinking habits, conversely parents who abuse alcohol and get out of hand every time they drink are likely to pass on bad habits to their kids.