Adolescence represents the transition from childhood to adulthood, that is, it is a period of development where the person acquires the physical and psychological capacities that will identify him/her as developed, especially sexual capacities, which will allow him/her to reproduce. As this is a period of profound change, it is marked by instability and, in most cases, by the confusion of the young people themselves in the face of their changes. During this phase of development, young people are much more vulnerable to some health risks, such as alcohol and drug use.
Drinking alcohol during adolescence has many risks. Some of them are directly related to the fact that drinking alcoholic beverages is dangerous to your health. Other risks for adolescents are indirect and are connected to alcohol-related behaviors. Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that alcohol consumption is also illegal during adolescence in most countries. In the United States, you can only drink alcoholic beverages from the age of 21. In other countries, the age varies but is generally between 18 and 21.
Why do teenagers start drinking?
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In the early and middle stages of adolescence (from 11 to 17 years old), young people develop an image of themselves, a role they seek to project and develop in front of others. The development of the personality causes in the adolescent the need for independence from the family group and the search for integration into social groups. This need to belong to a group can lead young people to develop dangerous behavior, such as alcohol consumption. Habits carried out around family and friends are crucial in preventing or encouraging alcohol consumption.
Understanding the reasons why teenagers drink can help us deal with it. One of the reasons is: Overcoming shyness Alcohol is a powerful mood killer and many teenagers fight shyness or relationship problems with it. Social pressure, on many occasions the society in which young people live encourages, directly and indirectly, the consumption of alcohol showing it as proof or evidence of social success. Many of them imitate adult behavior in the belief that this makes them mature and the consumption of alcohol is often situated in this context, and adolescents also take or drink alcohol for social integration in some specific social group or just to feel mature.
Adolescents are more vulnerable to alcohol
This is because the adult stage has not yet been completed and the young person is in a phase of formation and development, so the health consequences are more severe than for a mature adult. In addition to the physical health risks of alcohol consumption, the most damaging effects of this age are on mental health.
The adolescent\'s brain is constantly developing and growing; during adolescence, the young person will be acquiring all the skills of reasoning, planning, information processing, problem-solving and all the properties of abstract thinking. Drinking alcohol during this stage of learning and developing these skills can stall the process and result in an adult with significant impairments in mature thinking.
Alcohol also impairs the areas of the brain responsible for memory and learning, which are also under development and which make the ability to create and store memories, attention, and concentration very difficult and harmful. These skills are essential for the development of education and learning, and their lack or incomplete development can have serious consequences in the long run. In addition to the risks to the development of mature thinking and cognitive ability, alcohol use in adolescents greatly affects behavior, which can lead to the development of aggressive behavior that prevents the proper development of social relationships.
Alcohol consumption is not just an adult problem. Most American high school seniors have had an alcoholic drink in the last month. This encourages dangerous and risky behavior. Over time, this excess alcohol damages the brain cells. This can lead to behavioral problems and permanent damage to memory, thinking, and judgment. Adolescent drinkers tend to perform poorly in school and their behaviors can get them into trouble. Alcohol use also creates an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Drinking alcohol during puberty can also change hormones in the body. This can affect growth and puberty.
I will name one of the biggest direct risks of drinking alcohol at an early age or in adolescents: Dependence is one of the most important factors because alcohol is included in the group of the most addictive drugs due to its accessibility, it causes very serious diseases and disorders such as cirrhosis and high blood pressure, it makes you fat or overweight, and frequent consumption of alcohol has effects on the brain, especially in the case of adolescents. Not only does it cause memory loss, but it also influences the ability to concentrate and the entire cognitive process.
Other risks are indirect ones in which it causes significant effects on behavior, effects that can lead to very serious problems. For example traffic accidents, the lack of control over yourself caused by alcohol can lead to unprotected sex leading to unwanted pregnancy and fatal sexual diseases, and the lack of control caused by excessive alcohol consumption can lead to violent behavior. Young people who find themselves in the middle of fights or aggressive behavior.
How to prevent them from drinking
In order to prevent them from drinking and other risky behaviors, it is important for parents to start educating their children at an early age. Children must be educated to be responsible. They must understand and assume the risks of some behaviors. Also, when children have sufficient self-esteem, they are confident; it is much more difficult for them to need external motivations to feel good or to relate socially. In some of our countries of origin, the legality of alcohol drinking, even among young people, is very high.
But if we want our children to be safe in this respect, we will have to establish clear rules on the prohibition of their participation. In most cases, alcohol consumption among adolescents takes place on weekends and during holidays and at night. Some of these situations can be avoided by setting an early curfew.
Finally, I want to mention one of the most effective and strongest points that I experienced in my schools and during my primary and secondary education period that also the government or the education of such country has to demand or employ educational campaigns in which they are made in the schools or high schools to inform and educate how serious are drugs and alcohol consumption (causes, factors, risks, real-life cases, regrets, and how to elaborate a healthy life) The first thing you need to do is to be aware of the serious risks or results of drinking at any age, but especially among young people or adolescents.
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