Teen drinking is a problem that undermines the society from its roots. Looking at the statistics, it is getting worse, where despite some decline in the number of teen drinkers from 2001, according to an annual poll, alcohol consumption increased. (“Teen Drinking ‘Remains a Worry'”) Teen drinking is also dangerous because mostly it is socially acceptable, where parents overlook the dangers of alcohol compared to drugs. Studies show that “the earlier children start drinking, the more likely they are to develop problems with alcohol.” (“Teen Drinking”) In that regard, this paper addresses the issue of teen drinking in terms of its causes and effects.
The causes of drinking for teens might have common factors among which a distinctive characteristic is their difference from adult drinking. One of the causes for drinking is peer pressure. Peer pressure can be seen as the influence of others that affect teen’s behaviour. Although some of the effects of peer pressure might not have serious consequences, such as the influence on one’s dress, the haircut, and the relationship with friends, negative consequences can be seen through influencing teens to do things they normally would not have done. Such things include smoking, sex, and alcohol. When the phenomenon of drinking is so massive and has its unique cult in partying and celebrating special dates, it is hard for the teenager not to follow the crowd.
Another cause for teen drinking is experimentation. Teenagers absorb information from their peers and the media regarding drinking. Such information sometimes includes moments that might seem fun to them, such as forgetting what someone said or done when drunk, changes in behavior and etc. Teens start their first drinks with the intention just to know what it feels like to be drunk. After that, they experiment with the quantity, types of alcohol and suddenly they are attached to drinking regularly. A similar pattern can be seen in trying drugs.
A less common cause can be seen in the attempt to solve problems at home through drinking. This cause is not characteristic to problem families alone, where problems at home might include low grades, pressure, and even parents refused to listen. Accordingly, it can be said that the initial cause for drinking might be one of the previous reasons, i.e. experimentation and peer pressure, while problems at home can be a factor for continuation.
The effects of teen drinking are as bad as adult drinking. The main effect of drinking which logically flows to mind is becoming addicted to alcohol; “Teens who begin drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21.” (“Alcohol and Teen Drinking”) In that regard, while many teenagers see drinking as fun, it is not anymore when it is concerned with adult addiction. The same effect might be directly related to health problems, where teens drink to excess and in that regard, many mental health problems might occur such as anxiety, and depression as well as attention and conduct problems. (Norton) Finally, the most dangerous effect is the possibility of fatal outcomes with teen drinking. It was outlined many times in the media regarding the problem of drunk driving and its consequences. When it comes to teens it can be said that their feelings of indestructibility when not realizing that they are drunk leads to a more reckless attitude in driving and resulting in high rates of deaths. Additionally, other fatal consequences can be seen in cases of homicide and suicide, where alcohol is a leading factor in both.
In conclusion, it should be acknowledged that teen drinking is an underestimated issue in society. Watching all these media products that show drinking in funny and entertaining fashion overshadows the horrible consequences of such a habit. In that regard, it is the role of society to extensively inform teenagers and their parents about drinking and the path that it might lead to.