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Even though alcohol effects don’t have to be negative, teenagers and alcohol rarely mix to good effect. Underage drinking often leads to risky behavior and may also lead to further problems when the teenager becomes an adult. Some teenagers try alcohol due to peer pressure and others may use it to self-medicate an undiagnosed psychological issue. Whatever the reason, teenage alcohol use is more common than ever.
The average age for alcohol consumption in the United States is 13 for girls and 11 for boys. Obviously alcohol effects at this age will be overwhelmingly negative. Drinking at an early age can lead to violent, antisocial behavior as well as anxiety or depression. It may also lead to risky sexual behaviors. Surveys have shown that just over half of young adults between 12 and 20 years of age have drunk alcohol at least one time.
Research tells us that young adults are more vulnerable to alcohol effects and addiction because the brain’s pleasure center matures before the ability to control impulses and make executive decisions does. To put it another way, the capacity for pleasure in teenagers reaches adult status well before their ability to make good decisions.
Previous years have seen boys as the main alcohol experimenters, but recently girls have caught up. In the youngest age group, between 12 and 17, 15 percent of boys drink compared to 14 percent of girls. Even though some teenage drinkers reduce or stop drinking by the time they leave college in their mid-20s, plenty do not. People who start drinking at the age of 14 or younger have a six times higher risk of developing problem drinking later in life.
A number of factors may influence whether a teen might start consuming alcohol. Some of those factors include:
Teenagers are more likely to drink if addiction runs in their family and if they have peers and family members who drink or make it easy to get alcohol. As previously mentioned, drinking at a young age tends to lead to a number of risks. The majority of young adult problem drinking happens between the ages of 18 to 25. Over 40 percent of those surveyed in that group admit that they engage in binge drinking about once a month.
Many people tend to think that college students regularly consume alcohol, but in truth, most research shows that the previously mentioned age group engages in heavy drinking regardless of whether or not they attend college.
Heavy alcohol use among young adults comes with several alarming statistics. Around a third of drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 who die in car crashes have alcohol in their system over the legal limit. Drinking heavily at an early age may cause lasting issues with brain functions such as memory and motor skills. Drinking is often a factor in sexual assault cases involving people between the ages of 18 and 24.
Heavy drinking has more negative effects on girls than boys. Girls are more likely to drink to cope with family problems or unwanted emotions. Alcohol use can cause a delay in puberty for girls and then further cause endocrine disorders when puberty does come on. Young girls who drink also have a higher risk of engaging in unsafe sex.
Understand alcohol effects on teenagers and get help for addiction at a quality rehab like Beaches Recovery in Jacksonville, Florida. Depression and alcohol are strongly linked with addiction in teenagers and should be addressed as co-occurring disorders. Beaches offers a range of services to treat addiction and other disorders, including:
Concerned about your teen or young adult’s problem drinking? Don’t let the influence of addiction control your life or theirs. Start exploring the path to recovery today by calling Beaches Recovery at 866.605.0532. We can help you reclaim your life and the life of your teenager.