Research by the European School Survey Project has found that teenagers in the UK are more likely to abuse alcohol than young people in other parts of Europe are. It is believed that up to 54 per cent of teens have engaged in binge drinking – this type of drinking pattern is most likely to lead to harm. Binge drinking can destroy a young person’s life, so in order to encourage abstinence from alcohol it is important to understand their motivation for drinking in the first place.
Adults tend to look back on their teenage years through rose-tinted glasses. This is often the happiest time in a person’s life, but it does not mean that it was all hot summer days and innocence. Life for a teenager can be hard, and young people do not often have the coping skills to deal with the challenges they need to face. There are many reasons why a teenager turns to alcohol, including those we have listed below.
Growing Up in an Environment Where Alcohol Abuse is Normal Behaviour
If teenagers grow up in a family where there is a lot of drinking, they will assume this is just normal behaviour. It does not matter if their parents warn them about the dangers of alcohol – youngsters are more influenced by what they see than what they hear. If a teen sees that the adults around them get enjoyment from drinking, they are likely to want to try it.
The Stresses of Being a Teenager
Adults forget, but life as a teenager can be extremely stressful. This is mostly due to hormones changes, but can also be the confusion that arises when moving from childhood to taking on the responsibilities of adulthood. Teens also deal with issues such as bullying or a disruptive home. It can be a lot of pressure and alcohol may seem like an easy escape.
Emotional or Physically Abuse
Some young people live in a home where they are being emotionally, physically, or sexually abused. The teen could feel completely overwhelmed by the situation; this is something even adults struggle to cope with. Alcohol may seem an easy way to escape this pain and, in the beginning, it might appear to be working.
It is common for the symptoms of mental health problems to first become noticeable during teenage years. The young person may have no real idea about the cause of their mental discomfort; they just know that they feel better when they drink alcohol. This type of self-medication is actually making the situation much worse, but it can be easy to miss this in the beginning. By the time the person realises how much they have deteriorated, they are usually well on their way to addiction.
The pressure to drink from other teenagers is probably the most common reason why young people begin to experiment with alcohol. It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to this type of peer pressure; it can mean having to deal with ridicule and possibly even bullying.
UK Drinking Culture
The most likely reason for such a high rate of drinking among teenagers in the UK is the culture that promotes this behaviour. It is often promoted as a fun activity and a way to socialise. Even the popular soaps on TV are mostly based around drinking in bars.
There is will always be a reason why teenagers drink alcohol. It is only by understanding the motivation that steps can be taken to help the young person escape this behaviour. Any attempts to solve the problem without looking at the motivation behind it are usually doomed to failure.