Why Teenagers Drink Alcohol


Consumption of alcohol by teenagers and persons under the age of 21 years in the United States has become a major national health problem. Of all the drugs available in the U.S., alcohol is the most widely abused and used drug among teenagers, surpassing tobacco and illicit drugs such as cocaine and marijuana.

While teenage drinking is illegal, it is estimated that persons aged 12-20 years consume 11% of all alcohol sold in the U.S. Out of this, 90% is consumed in the form of binging. This means that, on average, teenagers consume more alcohol per drinking session than adult drinkers. In 2008, the number of emergency room visitations for treatment of alcohol-related injuries and conditions by persons aged 21 and below numbered 190,000. To curb this vice, let’s dig a little deeper and find out why teenagers drink alcohol.

Teenager Drinking Alcohol

Photo by: David Jones/PA Wire

Studies indicate that the brain continuously develops well into our twenties. During this time, it creates new linkages and refines its functions further. This explains why teenagers engage in risk-taking activities, such as a desire to experiment with alcohol. A bored teenager is more likely to engage in drinking alcohol or experimenting with other drugs. Pursuing hobbies or outside interests can prevent teens from falling into this trap.

Genetic Factors
Some physiological and behavioral factors that tend to edge a teenager toward sampling alcohol can be linked to genetics. Children of alcoholics are 4 to 10 times more likely to drink alcohol compared to children of non-alcoholics. Such children are also more likely to start drinking earlier and become alcoholics sooner than children of non-alcoholics.

Environmental Factors
Both genetic and environmental factors together serve to influence whether a teenager will become an alcoholic or not. If your teenager keeps the company of known-drinkers, it is only a matter of time before he or she takes up the habit. This is due to the desire to fit in with friends. The exposure to commercials and ads that glorify alcohol has been shown to greatly influence the desire to consume alcohol in young minds as well.

Low Self-Esteem
Teenagers with low self-esteem can turn to alcohol in order to feel better and boost their morale. Alcohol induces temporary euphoria characterized by false confidence. It also helps them forget their problems. Learning to spot signs of low self-esteem early on can help parents take the necessary precautions to prevent them from sinking into the vicious cycle binging or alcoholism. Signs of a teen drinking heavily can be lack of ambition, sleeping more, the desire to be alone, the desire to only be with friends, anger, violence, lack of appetite, or deterioration in the person’s appearance or hygiene.

Alcohol tends to make people feel at ease with one another. Shy individuals have been known to open up when alcohol begins taking effect.  This makes teenagers perceive it as a must-have drink for social situations, parties, and other fun events.

As we have seen, alcohol temporarily makes people forget their problems. It also releases the feel-good hormones that help relieve anxiety and stress. This makes teenagers that are stressed by either their social or academic lives to become susceptible to consume alcohol.

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Parents, educate your teens!

Talk to them about the dangers of drinking. Work on helping them develop their self-esteem.  A teen with high self-esteem is less apt to hang out and drink.

Parents, if you have a teenager that is drinking and want to help them, please sign up for a 15-minute Complimentary Discovery Session with me where I can help you break down some of your biggest obstacles.  Please take a moment and sign up for your free session here: http://meetme.so/DebraBeck

This is my PERSONAL calendar, so please take advantage.  I look forward to talking to you soon!

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©2007-2011 Debra Beck, EmpoweredTeensandParents.com

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Teen and parenting mentor Debra Beck, who has spent over 20 years working with teens and parents, is a devoted mother, sought-after presenter, and author. She now runs her popular website,  EmpoweredTeensandParents.com, publishes the “Empowered Teens and Parents” newsletter, encourages girls to be the best “young women” possible, and gives moms and dads the understanding they need to help their girls mature with pride and confidence.  Debra has helped thousands of teenage girls with their self-esteem.  Her award-winning book, “My Feet Aren’t Ugly: A Girl’s Guide to Loving Herself From The Inside Out”, has been revised and updated for re-release in September 2011 with Beaufort Books.

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