Health Effects of Teenage Alcoholism
Alcoholism among both teens and adults comes with many short term and long term health effects or consequences. In fact, the health effects of teenage alcoholism can be detrimental and even life threatening, even more so than for an adult. This is because the human brain is not fully developed until a human reaches the age 30 and therefore drinking as a teenager or even a young adult can cause lasting damage to the brain.
During adolescence, the teen is going through a number of physical and emotional changes. It’s a transitional time in which hormonal changes and alterations in brain development run high. For this reason, it’s vital the teens do not drink alcohol. Unfortunately, what is good and right doesn’t always happen and many teens drink for a number of reasons.
Why Teens Abuse Alcohol
There are a number of documented reasons why teens abuse alcohol. Many teens feel peer pressure and the need to fit in with their peers so they drink socially. It’s a matter of going along with the majority or the crowd. For this, it’s important for parents to help teens understand the importance of not drinking and to recognize the signs of peer pressure as well as how to overcome it.
Additionally, teens may drink to “withdraw” themselves from personal situations or problems. Stress related alcoholism in teens is very common especially in today’s society where many parents have suffered job loss, divorce and other difficulties that impact the lives of teenagers. If significant changes have been made at home that could induce stress it’s important for parents to discuss such problems and changes with their teens and again address the importance of talking about their problems and not drinking to cover problems up.
How Alcoholism Affects Teens
Alcoholism affects teens negatively in the following ways:
- School work may be missed or incomplete
- Grades fall
- Teens who drink may miss school or skip school
- Relationships suffer (relationships between friends, family members and others)
- Depression is common
- Nutritional deficiencies may arise
- Sleep is interrupted
- Impulsive activity takes over
Teens and Alcoholism, Effects on Memory
A recent study found that teens who drink regularly are more likely to suffer short term memory loss similar to that of teens who smoke marijuana. Alcoholism in teens causes short term memory loss which results in the teen being unable to remember words or even simple shapes after 10 minutes. For instance, a teen may be shown a series of shapes and then 10 minutes later be asked to repeat the pattern of the shapes. For a teen who drinks regularly, they will not be able to properly repeat the pattern.
Similar studies related to the memory problems that accompany teenage alcoholism have also been conducted. In all studies, memory problems were significantly higher for teens who abuse alcohol versus those who did not drink. Additionally, many teens who drink regularly suffer increased symptoms of withdrawal as a result of the alcoholism. Children who start drinking before the age of 15 are more likely to become dependent on alcohol later in life when compared to those who did not start drinking until they were at least 20 years old.
Factors that Increase the Likelihood of Teenage Alcoholism
Many factors contribute to the possibility of a teenager drinking regularly and suffering from alcoholism. The most common environmental factor to increase the risk of teenage alcoholism is coming from an alcoholic family. Alcoholic families may have easy access to alcohol in the home where the teen can easily get the alcohol and try it. Additionally, alcoholic families also accept drinking more openly than those families that do not drink. Poor parental monitoring may also be to blame for the increased risk of teenage alcoholism in alcoholic families.