Factors Affecting Alcohol abuse and addiction Among Teens in the US Alcohol abuse and addiction has become a very rampant phenomenon among the youths in the US especially in the recent past. Many youthful individuals in the US consume alcohol, this being despite the fact that the minimum legal age of drinking age has been set at 21 (Shaffer, LaPlante, & Nelson, 2012). Alcohol abuse may take the form of binge drinking (having more than five consecutive drinks) or being a frequent drinker. Biological and psychological factors demystify the progression of drinking from just using, to abuse, and later on to dependence. During these teenage years, young people try to develop an identity and get acceptance among their peers. They are subjected to various forms of pressures such as performing well in studies as well as extra-curricular activities such as sports. Getting into college is also another tricky and competitive process and many teens are weary of the possibility of causing a disappointment to their parents or themselves (Erickson, 2011). The teenagers may also be facing problems at home or hardships in their romantic relationships or social interactions.
Research has shown that teenagers are more impulsive as compared to their adult counterparts and thus may act before putting into consideration the consequences that may arise from their actions. Some of the factors that may influence teenagers to abuse alcohol may range from the below mentioned factors. Family history is a major factor contributing to alcohol abuse. A research carried out by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry revealed that teenagers with members of their family having a history of substance abuse bear an eminent risk of falling into the same trap (Kuhar, 2012). A teen raised in a household where either or both of the parents are alcoholics may deem it an acceptable behaviour. The alcohol also becomes readily accessible to the teen. On the contrary, a teen may be disgusted and hurt by his parents’ alcoholism, and opt to follow a different path. Depression is another factor that may lead to alcohol abuse. Many adolescents may find it challenging to cope with the daily hardships of being a teenager. This may cause stress that may later deteriorate to depression (Shaffer, LaPlante, & Nelson, 2012).
With no knowledge on how to deal with the depression, the teen may turn to alcohol to numb her emotions and temporarily erase the issues he faces at school and at home. On the converse, some teenagers have healthier ways of coping with their emotions. An example is talking to family or a friend when they face anger or sadness, take part in sporting activities, or jot on their journals what they feel and think. Another factor may be lack of social support. Difficulty in developing and maintaining healthy relationships may lead teens to alcohol abuse (Kuhar, 2012). A teen whose parents are absent lacks friends, and does not have access to new people, may be curbed with loneliness and result into a depression. Numerous teens without a social support system are prone to low self- esteem.
Similarly, teens who are subjected to heartbreaks or abusive romantic relationships might turn to alcohol to ease their pain. A single drink may culminate into many drinks and ultimately chronic alcohol abuse. According to Erickson (2011), another factor is peer pressure. Teens surrounding themselves with other teens that drink have a high probability of drinking. To desist from drinking would be to risk being sidelined from the crowd, which becomes an uncomfortable scenario for teens. Additionally, a teen that is driven by friends to attend parties where alcohol is served may develop the curiosity to have a taste. The teen may be enchanted by the feel of the high and progress with the drinking on a habitual basis, which may ultimately result in alcohol abuse.
Erickson, C. K. (2011). Addiction essentials: The go-to guide for clinicians and patients. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. Kuhar, M. J. (2012). The addicted brain: Why we abuse drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. Upper Saddle River, N.J: FT Press. Shaffer, H., LaPlante, D. A., & Nelson, S. E. (2012). APA addiction syndrome handbook. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.