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Alcohol Abuse In Teenagers

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Alcohol Abuse In Teenagers

Alcohol Abuse in Teenagers in Australia

Research shows that over 90% of Australian teenagers have over the age of 14 have drunk alcohol at least once. Over half of that percentage use alcohol on a weekly basis. Although alcohol is legal and viewed as a socially acceptable drug that “all kids eventually try,” it can lead to many problems if used irresponsibly. Unfortunately, where teenagers are concerned, alcohol, inexperience and peer pressure form a nasty cocktail that can result in all kinds of risky behaviour.

Dangerous Attitudes to Alcohol

Most parents in Australia are more worried about their children falling prey to more dangerous hard drugs than to alcohol. This is a dangerous supposition, in that it reduces alcohol to a “less serious” substance than other, illegal narcotics. Disturbingly, parents couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, alcohol is linked to a large percentage of teenage deaths per year. Here are some of the risks associated with the abuse of liquor in teenagers.

Drink Driving

In Victoria, between the years 2009 and 2010, it was found that 41 fatal accidents were caused by drivers over the blood alcohol limit of 0.05. Of these incidents, six of the drivers were under 21 years of age, while 16 were between the age of 21 and 25.

Sadly, drink driving has been labelled as the number one cause of teenage fatalities in Australia. Therefore, systems need to be in place to curb drink driving, especially in under-21s. This requires the co-operation of parents and schools in the education of minors with regards to drinking and driving.

Stunted Brain Development

Boys and girls under the age of fifteen are still growing. This means that their brains are still developing, particularly in the hippocampus and frontal lobe areas. These sections of the brain are significantly responsible for the maintenance of impulse and addiction control.

If a teenager under the age of fifteen drinks regularly, the implications on cerebral development can be catastrophic. Alcohol is a neuro-toxin and as a result, is designed to hamper the efficacy of the brain. It is known to block the absorption of Vitamin B, a vital supplement for neurological development. It can also give rise to Alcohol-Related Brain Injury, or ARBI, which is very common in teenagers who have succumbed to alcohol abuse.

Unsafe Sex

We all know how alcohol can impair judgement. It is dangerous enough for independent adults to binge drink. Imagine, then, the implications of binge drinking for teenagers, who often drink in peer-pressure-driven environments.

The risks of date rape and sexual assault escalate in environments where the consumption of alcohol goes unchecked. Teenagers may also engage in unsafe sex where the use of condoms is forgone. This, in turn, can give rise to sexually transmitted diseases (the most dangerous of which is HIV) and possible unwanted pregnancies.

Other

Teens can also risk death and injury through other means. Assault from brawling, for instance, comes with its own fair share of physical risks. The legal implications of this behaviour are also cause for concern. The feeling of invincibility that alcohol imparts can also lead to similar kinds of risky behaviour. Teenagers have come to tragic ends by falling off buildings or even drowning under the influence of alcohol.

Parental role-modelling is therefore vital in preventing these, and other tragic outcomes. Parents need to educate their children about alcohol abuse when they are at an early age. They should also ensure that their own behaviour models responsible drinking practices.

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