Teens and Alcohol
A bad mix
The teenage years are a time of a lot of experimental learning and one area that young people like to investigate is that of alcoholic beverages. But is this a good idea? No and here are just a few of the many reasons why. For one, the younger a person is when they begin drinking, the more likely they are to have alcohol related problems as they grow older. This may be connected with the fact that the brain is still developing up until at least 25 years of age and alcohol can damage that developmental process. In addition, young people that drink alcohol are much more likely to be involved in accidents and risky behaviors like traffic accidents, falls, fights, violence, unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancy.
With the above mentioned reasons, many parents want to protect their children from the dangers of alcohol. To do this, some parents think the answer to the teenage alcohol problem is to introduce their teens to alcohol at home in a safe environment. Research, however, doesn’t support this. A Dutch study found that alcohol use among adolescents increases over time regardless of the setting or who they drink with. Consequently, the earlier the introduction to alcohol, the greater the risk that heavy drinking can become a problem for young people. In order to prevent these drinking patterns in youth as they mature, the researchers from this study recommend that parents prohibit all alcohol use in their children and teens. A good way to do this is to plan parties that revolve around fun activities, instead of alcohol. Let teenagers see that alcohol isn’t needed to enjoy life. Plus, there are plenty of non-alcoholic drinks that can be purchased or made!
van der Vorst, H., Engels, C. R., and Burk, W. J.(2010) Do Parents and Best Friends Influence the Normative Increase in Adolescents’ Alcohol Use at Home and Outside the Home? Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 71(1): 105-114.