Underage drinking is a huge problem right across the UK. The number of youngsters engaged in this behaviour has risen by at least eight per cent in less than a decade, and the expectation is that the numbers will continue rising. Thousands of underage drinkers also end up requiring rehab and other types of addiction treatment.
Underage drinking can destroy the lives of the young people engaged in this activity. The dangers include:
- the younger individuals are when they begin to abuse alcohol, the higher the likelihood that they become alcoholics
- toxic effects cause far more damage to teenagers – this includes both mental and physical harm
- interferes with the normal development of adolescents
- far more likely to engage in high risk behaviours
- most teen suicides involve the use of alcohol
- far more likely to engage in criminal activity
- prevents youngsters from doing well in school; it can severely damage their future prospects
- inebriation is closely related to underage sex and unplanned pregnancies
- far more likely to try harder drugs like heroin
- many young people have died due to alcohol poisoning or misadventures while inebriated.
There can be a great deal of pressure on young people to drink alcohol – if their friends are engaged in this activity, it can be very hard for them to say ‘no’. Drinking is heavily promoted in society and many famous people are as well known for their alcohol use as they are their other talents. It is understandable that young people are going to be curious to find out what all the fuss is about. Many of the young people who end up trapped in addiction, start out with what seems like harmless experiments with this substance.
Adolescents can be a very stressful time, and some young people try to cope with their raging hormones by turning to alcohol. This is more likely to happen if they have grown up in a family where abusing this substance is considered normal behaviour; teenagers are more influenced by what their parents do rather than what their parents say. Many young people have had to deal with mental, physical, or emotional trauma, using alcohol as a coping mechanism. A significant number of teenagers have undiagnosed mental health problems, turning to alcohol as a means of self-medicating.
Underage drinking can destroy a person’s life before it has even begun. It is vital that teenagers abusing alcohol are given the help they need to stop. There are now many addiction treatment options available that are focused on the needs of young people. It is usually helpful for teenagers to be treated in an environment that is specific to their exact needs; adult addiction treatment options are often not appropriate.
The best way to deal with underage drinking is to take further steps to prevent it from occurring in the first place. The fact that this problem continues to worsen indicates that current efforts are not enough. More needs to be done to show young people the reality of addiction; they also need more role models who will send the message that it is possible to have a great young life without the need to turn to substance abuse.