Alcohol consumption during adolescence has many risks. Some of them are direct because the consumption of alcoholic beverages is dangerous for health. Other risks in the case of adolescents are indirect and are linked to behaviours derived from alcohol consumption.
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, this age varies, but in general, it is between 18 and 21 years old.
Drinking alcohol has very dangerous health effects. The most important, but not the only ones, are the following. Let your teenage son or daughter meet them:
- Dependency: Alcohol is an addictive substance that creates a dependency similar to that of drugs. In the case of adolescents, this risk is also much higher. A study conducted in the United States and published in the medical journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine showed that 47% of people who start consuming alcohol before the age of 14 develop a dependency at some point throughout their lives. When you wait at age 21 to start drinking alcohol, your dependency risk drops to 9%.
- It causes diseases: There are very serious disorders such as cirrhosis, high pressure and some types of cancer whose probability of suffering increases with alcohol consumption.
- Fattening: Alcohol consumption makes you fat.
- The skin ages: The skin is one of the organs most affected by alcohol consumption.
- Sexual problems: Alcohol consumption can cause impotence in men and menstrual disturbances in women.
- Memory loss: 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, in general, the entire cognitive process.
Drinking alcohol has significant behavioural effects, effects that can lead to very serious problems. As important as the effects that alcohol causes on your body are that your teenage son or daughter knows what alcohol can do on their behaviour and that of their friends:
- Traffic accidents: A large part of traffic accidents among adolescents is related to the consumption of alcohol and drugs.
- Unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases: The lack of self-control caused by alcohol can lead to having sex without adequate protection.
- Violence: The euphoria and lack of control caused by excessive alcohol consumption can lead to violent behaviour. Young people who are seen in the middle of fights or aggressive behaviours.
Why they drink
Understanding the reasons teenagers drink can help us fight it.
- Overcoming shyness. Alcohol is a powerful deflator, and many teens fight shyness or relationship problems with it.
- Social pressure: On many occasions, the society in which young people live directly and indirectly encourages alcohol consumption, showing it as proof of social success. Young people would imitate this behaviour in search of their social success as well.
- Imitation of adults: Adolescents are experiencing the transition between puberty and adulthood. Many of them imitate adult behaviours in the belief that this makes them mature and alcohol consumption is often placed in that context.
- Integration in the group: Adolescents who are related to other adolescents who drink alcohol also consume it to feel part of the group.
How to prevent them from drinking
To prevent them from drinking and adopting other risky behaviors, it is essential that parents begin to educate their children from childhood.
- Responsibility: Children must be educated to be responsible. That they understand and assume the risks of certain behaviours.
- Self-esteem: When boys have enough self-esteem, that is, they are sure of themselves, it is much more unlikely that they need external stimuli to feel good or to socially relate.
- Standards: In some of our countries of origin, the permissiveness towards alcohol consumption, even among young people, is very high. But if we want our children to be safe in this regard, we must impose clear rules on the prohibition of their consumption.
- Departures: In most cases, alcohol consumption among adolescents occurs on weekends and during holidays and at night. Some of those situations can be avoided by setting an early return home time.
If, despite everything, parents discover that their teenage son is a regular consumer of alcoholic beverages, they should seek help for him. There are associations of alcoholics in most cities that can provide you with the necessary information to know where to go.