As a teenager, there are likely to be many times when you feel a certain amount of pressure to drink alcohol. It may be that all your friends are doing it and they seem to be having a good time. Or it may be that you simply do not want to be left out at the parties and social gatherings you attend that increasingly seem to revolve around drinking.
For many teenagers, getting involved with alcohol is simply part of growing up, but for others, it can quickly become a serious problem. There are a number of factors that make it more likely for teenagers to develop problems with alcohol or even progress into full-blown alcoholism. The more aware you are of these factors, the better your chances of avoiding problems both during your teen years and later in life.
The Desire to Feel Accepted
There is no single reason why teens start drinking. It may begin with simple curiosity or a desire to fit in with what your friends are doing, or it may begin because someone in your family drinks heavily and you simply want to emulate them.
For some people, this is nothing more than a passing phase, but for others it is a rite of passage and simply becomes a part of their social life as they get older, particularly if they go on to attend college. For a small proportion of people, alcohol can become a problem. The best way to ensure that you do not fall into this category is to be aware of the pressure and the dangers, and make changes to your life accordingly.
Seeking Peer Approval
A major cause of teen alcoholism is peer pressure. Many teenagers – boys in particular – are incredibly competitive and will try to outperform one another at every possible opportunity. Drinking games may be very common at this age, and can help to foster the impression that drinking alcohol is not a serious matter.
If you are unable to drink legally, you may overindulge in private before heading out for the evening in a process known as “pre-drinking.” Typically, you and a group of friends will gather and share several different kinds of alcohol with the sole intention of feeling a “buzz” before heading off to a party or a club.
If everyone else is indulging, it can be extremely hard to resist joining in. The only way to avoid these situations completely is to ensure you do not spend time in the company of people who are going to get involved in such activities. This may seem harsh, but there may be no other option if you are constantly feeling extreme pressure from these people. If you are truly concerned about your drinking and fear your problem may be getting worse, this is one of the steps you can take to protect yourself.
The Role of Genetic Factors
If one of your parents or someone in your family is an alcoholic, this can have a huge effect on your relationship with alcohol. The chances of you becoming an alcoholic are substantially increased if the condition is already present in your family. This may mean that you decide to keep a close eye on your own drinking to ensure it does not become problematic. Alternatively, you may go a step further and decide to abstain from alcohol completely.
Alcohol abuse can destroy relationships with family and friends, and can also lead to life-threatening diseases. Many people who grow up in alcoholic households witness horrific acts of violence as well as emotional abuse. Seeing the consequences of alcoholism up close can either put you off drinking completely or push you towards emulating that behavior.
Issues With Alcohol
One thing many people who experience problems with alcohol struggle with is the social stigma attached to anyone who chooses not to drink. Society as a whole seems to celebrate and idolize people who drink, and this can often add to any pressure you are already feeling over your level of consumption.
Part of dealing with your problem will involve accepting alternative views of alcohol and becoming fully aware of the problems it can cause to your health and well-being. You also need to be aware of the effects your drinking can have on those around you, in particular your friends and family members. In many cases, the people who are closest to you will see changes brought about by alcohol addiction that you are unable to see yourself.
Finding Support Groups
Alcoholism is often thought of as an adult-only problem, as this is how it is generally portrayed in the media. If you are struggling with drinking, it is important to remember that you are not alone. There are plenty of resources and support groups that are aimed directly at teenagers. Many of these arrange group therapy sessions where you can talk through the issues you are facing with other teenagers who are in the exact same position. These groups can be a great source of comfort and are often the first step towards recovery.
Getting Help for Teen Alcoholism
Alcohol is widely available, socially accepted and legal for those 21 and up. These factors combine to make the chance of anyone becoming an alcoholic far higher than you might initially think.
According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, around half of all underage Americans have used alcohol. In addition, around two million people aged between 12 and 20 would consider themselves heavy drinkers. A further 4.4 million in the same age range are classified as binge drinkers.
Drinking during adolescence is one of the risk factors for developing alcoholism. The more you know about the dangers alcohol can present, the better positioned you are to protect yourself. A survey of more than 40,000 adults found that of those who began drinking before the age of 14, nearly half had become dependent on alcohol by the age of 21. For those who began drinking at or after the age of 21, only nine percent developed alcoholism.
If you’re finding yourself drinking too much or feeling like you have to drink, contact us today. We are here 24/7 to answer any questions you may have and help you take the first step to sobriety.