Alcohol is the most frequently used drug by teenagers and unfortunately, it is the leading cause of death among teenagers. For example, alcohol contributes to adolescent motor vehicle accidents, other traumatic injuries, suicide, date rape and even family and school problems. Most teens who are addicted won’t ever see a problem with their behavior or their addiction. Teens use alcohol simply because it makes them feel good and it is a way to relieve stress of school, problems at home, disagreements with friends and other pressures of growing up. Teen alcoholism is a serious, troublesome and increasing epidemic within the United States.
Alcoholism is a negative pattern of alcohol use leading to a number of problems, which may include needing more alcohol to get intoxicated, difficulties that occur when the effects of alcohol wear off or in other words, withdrawal, using more alcohol or for a longer time than intended and other life problems because of the use of alcohol (Dryden-Edwards).
Many teens are endanger of getting alcoholism because of how excessive they use it. Teenager’s are among the leading group of alcohol abusers. They use alcohol to excess, either on individual occasions or as a regular practice. Heavy alcohol abuse can ultimately cause physical and emotional damage and sometimes, death. Both, female and male teens can and are suffering from alcohol abuse. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse just doesn’t attack one specific gender, race or even social group. Teens use alcohol on their own; it’s ultimately their own decision. However, a lot of the times there first use to due to peer pressure at a party or a social event. Most teens use alcohol to have a good time and be more like their friends. However, when teens become addicted they tend to lose friends, develop health problems, experience memory loss, loose motivation, start having problems in school and alienate their family and friends with their negative behaviors and often unpredictable mood swings (TDA+A).
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Unfortunately, once teens start using drugs, like alcohol, they are not usually motivated to stop. Teens might tell themselves that they will only try a drug or have a drink once, but many teens find themselves under continual peer pressure to continue to experiment and “join the party” (TDA+A).
Sadly, very few teen addicts recognize when they have actually crossed the fine line from casual usage to addiction.
Statistics prove the about half of junior high and senior high students drink alcohol on a monthly basis (Dryden-Edwards).
Fourteen percent of teens have been intoxicated or under the use of alcohol, at least once in the past year and eight percent of teens who drink say that they drink at least five or more alcoholic drinks in a row (Dryden-Edwards).
This behavior is known as binge-drinking and it is defined as a repetitive cycle that involves a period of out of control drinking (Addictionary).
Alcohol is by far the most used and abused drug among American teenagers. For example, every day, on average, 11,318 American youth between the ages of twelve to twenty, try alcohol for the fist time, compared with 6,488 for marijuana; 2,786 for cocaine; and 386 for heroin (Alcohol and Youth Facts).
Another statistical survey showed that nearly one third of all high school students reported hazardous drinking or binge drinking, during the thirty days of preceding the survey (Alcohol and Youth Facts).
Young people who begin drinking before the age of fifteen are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin drinking at the age of twenty one. Another sad but, true statistical reference, is that more than 1,700 college students in the United States are killed each year-about 4.65 a day- as a result of alcohol-related injuries (Alcohol and Youth Facts).
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Another survey found in Teen Alcoholics states that, about four percent of American teens say that they drink daily, and half of those teens admitted to being drunk almost everyday. Approximately, 250,000 teens enter alcohol abuse treatment programs each year and many experts say that for every teen that is receiving treatment, several more should be but, are not. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimate that between 5.2 and 5.5 million teenagers are alcohol abusers (Stewart 11).
These statistical surveys and facts prove that alcohol among teenagers is a crucial and escalating problem within the United States.
About sixty-seven percent of thirteen year olds have used alcohol. Almost eighty-eight percent of teen alcoholics say that they began drinking before they were ten, some as young as eight (Stewart 12).
This statistical reference shows that any child and teenager can be influenced by the use of alcohol. Many people believe that alcohol is just a problematic factor for teenagers but, children are beginning to be more influenced of the use of alcohol, as well. For example, the younger a child starts drinking, says doctor’s, the greater the risk of becoming dependent on alcohol. A child’s nervous system isn’t fully developed, making the effects of alcohol more intense (Stewart 12).
For many teens, drugs and alcohol is a pleasurable way to relax and fit in and drinking does not represent a serious threat because teens typically have the mentality that they are invincible.
Some of the most common symptoms of alcohol abuse in teenagers include lying, making excuses, breaking curfew, excluding themselves from the outside world, becoming verbally and physically abusive towards others, having items in their possession that are connected to alcohol use, the smell of alcohol on their breath or their body, mood swings, stealing and a change in friends (TDA+A).
There are multiple factors to look at for indications of alcohol abuse. A change in appearance, friends, behavior and interests are all major indications that teenagers are experiencing and experimenting with alcohol. Behavior problems, a drop in academic performance, emotional distancing, depression, fatigue, changes in mood, eating habits and sleeping patterns, increased hostility or irritability, decrease in interest in personal appearance and lying or increased evasiveness about school or weekend activities are all leading signs that a teen has abused alcohol. When a teen exhibits these behaviors, there is a high chance that they may have a problem with alcohol and should seek immediate help to ensure a better lifestyle.
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The most serious and damaging side effect alcohol has on the individual is alcoholism. Alcoholism is mainly the alcohol dependence that the individual encounters. There are also multiple alcoholic diseases, mental and physical disorders, that are caused directly or indirectly by alcoholism or heavy drinking. There are also a significant amount of effects that teens experience when they drink alcohol. Most teens will experience behavioral changes. For example, most teen drinkers will lose motivation and will have a completely change in attitude to everyone and everything they encounter. They will have a care-free attitude when it comes to school and other activities, which will ultimately lead to a drop in academic performance. For example, Marguerite, a teen alcoholic states, “I spent most of eighth grade and half of ninth skipping school. I used to be a good student- I was usually on the honor roll. But when I started using alcohol on a daily basis, school seemed like the most unimportant thing I could be doing with my time” (Stewart 13).
The individual who is experiencing alcohol abuse will completely forgot about the people and interests that once had a importance in their lives. They will ultimately become a different person, with different concerns and different morals. As for the people in the teens life, they will become torn and confused on what to do with the individual affected by alcohol. Most of the people will become distant with the teen who is experiencing alcohol abuse because the teen with ultimately distant themselves from the people who actually care about them. There are many effects that alcohol has on the individual, other people and the life of the individual experiencing alcohol abuse.
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In the book, Candy, there was a young boy named, Joe who was completely altered and influenced by the actions and decisions that Candy made. Candy was an alcoholic that stumbled into Joe’s life. Joe was memorized by her and because of that he stumbled into her world. Soon, they became caught up in the underground world of drugs, violence and desperation. Joe was so intrigued into Candy that his own family could not bring him out of his down-ward fate. Candy is addicted to alcohol and drugs while Joe is addicted to Candy. This all came to a crashing halt, when Candy murdered someone because she was under the influence of drugs. This action finally separated the two. The book left was in suspense, wondering if they will ever meet again.
Candy was one of the main characters in the book Candy, that was highly influenced by alcohol. She used everything that she could to get what she wanted, her body and her mind. She knew how to manipulate people to get her drugs and alcohol, while the people that she was doing it to didn’t even realize. The only thing that she actually cared about was her addiction and as long as someone was helping her with that they remained close to her. Candy could never realize that her actions were not only killing her but all the people around her. She was either going to end up dead or in jail and she was going to bring everyone with her.
There are multiple ways to treat an alcohol abuser. There are a few medications that are considered effective such as, Zofran. Zofran is one specific medication that has been found to be effective in treating alcoholism and alcohol abuse in people whose problem drinking began before they were twenty-five years old (Alcohol and Teens).
Naltrexone, Disulfiram and Acamprosate are other medications know to be effective in treating alcoholism and alcohol abuse. There are also, numerous individual treatments for alcohol abuse within teens. Relapse prevention uses specific methods for recognizing and amending problem behaviors. Individualized drug counseling specifically emphasizes short-term behavioral goals in attempt to help the individual reduce or stop the use of alcohol all together. Some treatment programs include drug testing. One of the most known treatment programs is Alcoholics Anonymous, which is a twelve-step program that uses individualized drug-counseling methods (Alcohol and Teens).
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There is also motivational enhancement therapy which encourages the teen to increase their desire to participate in therapy. Stimulus control refers to a treatment method that actually teaches the teen to avoid situations that are associated with alcohol use and to replace those situations with activities that are opposed to using drugs. Urge control is an approach to changing patterns that will lead to drug use and social control involves family members and other significant others of the teen alcohol abuser in the treatment. Family interventions for alcoholism and alcohol abuse tend to be the most effective for teens. There is also a longer-term residential treatment of three to five months that addresses peer relationships, educational problems and family issues which is often used for treating alcoholism and alcohol abuse within teens. Residential Rehabilitation is for teens who cannot stop using drugs without twenty-four hour supervision. Teens in residential rehab are those individuals who have continued to use despite knowledge of the risks and consequences, or have continued to use despite previous attempts to stop. Another treatment, detoxification, is for teenagers who need a safe and medically supervised relief from withdrawal symptoms when they first enter a rehabilitation program. There is also an Intensive Outpatient Program designed for teens to have committed to staying drug free, but need treatment after school to prevent use and promote recovery. The Aftercare and Continuing Care is one of the most important program for recovery for a teen. This specific program helps the teenager to maintain an alcohol free life style. If there was a program like this for the character Candy, it could have prevented her from ruining her life by committing murder for drugs. All of these treatment programs are designed to teach teens the skills that will ultimately help them to maintain their recovery and sustain a alcohol free lifestyle.
In conclusion, teen alcohol abuse is a serious and dangerous matter among teenagers. Alcohol has numerous and dangerous effects that will ultimately harm the teen abuser, the teens life and the people surrounding the teenager. When a teenager drinks a beer or has a shot, they don’t realize how much they are actually throwing away.
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Alcohol and Youth Facts. The Marin Institute. 22 Nov. 2009. http://www.marininstitute.org/Youth/alcohol_youth.htm.
Dryden-Edwards, Roxanne. Alcohol and Teens. MedicineNet. Ed. Conrad Stoppler, Melissa. MedicineNet Inc., 2009. 22 Nov. 2009. http://www.medicinenet.com/alcohol_and_teens/article.htm
Stewart, Gale. Teen Alcoholics. The Other America. San Diego: Lucent Books, 2000.
“Teen Substance Abuse and Treatment.” Teen Drug Abuse. 2009. 22 Nov. 2009. 19 Oct. 2009.