Teenage Alcoholism

Research studies have shown that teenage alcoholism is correlated to the age at which teens start drinking and to the amount and the frequency of their drinking.

More precisely, the average age when teenagers first try alcohol is 11 years old for boys and 13 years old for girls.

In addition, the average age at which Americans begin drinking regularly is 15.9 years old.

The earlier teenagers drink, the more they drink, and the more frequently they drink, the greater the probability that they will suffer from teenage alcoholism.

Based on this information, it is apparent that underage drinking, in the form of teen alcoholism and adolescent alcohol abuse, is a serious issue that requires immediate attention.

Teenage Alcoholism and Recent Research Findings

According to research undertaken by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, teens who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop a dependency on alcohol than those who begin drinking at 21 years of age.

For people who are concerned with teen alcoholism and adolescent alcohol abuse, this is critically important information.

In fact, according to Joseph A. Califano, Chairman and President of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, “a child who reaches age 21 without smoking, abusing alcohol or using drugs is virtually certain never to do so.”

In a 1996 report done by the Department of Health and Human Services, the following was discovered:

  1. Most teens don’t know the strengths of different alcoholic drinks. For instance, the alcohol content is different in wine, beer, wine coolers, and whiskey. And to complicate matters, each type of alcoholic beverage can contain different amounts of alcohol. For example, some beer has a low percentage of alcohol while others have two or three times the alcoholic content.
  2. 33% of the teens surveyed did not understand the intoxicating effects of alcohol. This lack of understanding obviously has a strong correlation with underage drinking, teen alcoholism, and adolescent alcohol abuse.
  3. 80% of teens do not know that a shot of whiskey has the same amount of alcohol as a 12-ounce can or bottle of beer.

Teenage Alcoholism: A Social Activity

Research has revealed that teen drinking, adolescent alcohol abuse, and teenage alcoholism are mainly social activities.

In fact, teens rarely drink alone.

Stated differently, the more a teen drinks, the more likely their drinking will be with other teens.

There are, however, many other reasons besides peer influence that lead to adolescent alcohol abuse and teen alcoholism.

Teenage Alcoholism and Personality Traits

Indeed, the social environment and media influences may also play a key role in a teen’s decision to drink.

These external factors, on the other hand, do not explain the whole picture.

That is, according to alcohol and drug addiction experts, various personality traits have been identified that can lead to adolescent alcohol abuse and teenage alcoholism.

For example, teens who have personalities that can be described as sensation or thrill seeking, impulsive, or under-controlled are considered to be at risk for adolescent alcohol abuse and/or teen alcoholism.

Teen Alcoholism and Psychological Problems

Other teens who openly reject authority figures or who can’t wait to grow up often drink excessively.

Not only this, but emotional problems can also lead to adolescent alcohol abuse and drug abuse.

In fact, a study done in the mid-1990s revealed that two-thirds of the teens surveyed stated that they use drugs and alcohol to help them forget their problems.

One of the main psychological problems faced by teens that can lead to drinking is the dysfunctional nature of their family lifestyle.

Teens with parents who face financial or relationship problems may start drinking for comfort and to numb the pain they are experiencing.

Not only this, but if one or both of the teens’ parents are alcoholic, according to one study, teens may be up to seven times more likely to become alcoholics themselves as compared with teens who have nonalcoholic parents.

The message is clear: parents who suffer from alcohol abuse and alcoholism often have children who involve themselves in adolescent alcohol abuse and teen alcoholism.

More Teenage Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse Statistics

In a some fairly recent studies the following statistics about teens and drinking alcohol were discovered:

  • Half of the teens in one survey stated that in the 30 days before the survey, they drank alcohol and one-third of them said that they got drunk on at least one occasion. Let’s be realistic. Getting drunk IS abusive drinking. When youth engage in adolescent alcohol abuse, moreover, teen alcoholism becomes more probable.
  • Teens who drink alcohol are 50 times more likely to use cocaine than teens who never consume alcohol.
  • Teens who consume numerous alcoholic drinks in one sitting (known as “binge drinking”) skip school twice as often as teens who do no engage in binge drinking. Almost one-third of high school seniors surveyed stated that they had five or more alcoholic drinks during one drinking episode during the past two-week period. Binge drinking is a form of alcohol abuse. If many teenagers are engaging in adolescent alcohol abuse in the form of binge drinking, the potential for teenage alcoholism increases substantially.
  • In a one year period of time, 10.6 million teens in grades seven through twelve consumed more than one billion cans of beer.
  • In one survey it was found that 10 million youth between the ages of 12 and 20 drank some sort of alcohol in the month prior to the survey. Keep in mind that ANY underage drinking IS adolescent alcohol abuse.
  • One in four high school seniors reported drinking some kind of alcoholic beverage on a daily basis. This is not only an example of adolescent alcohol abuse, but potentially an illustration of teen alcoholism.
  • Teens have stated that other people’s homes is the most common setting for drinking.
  • When asked, 33% of sixth and ninth graders said that they get their alcohol from their own homes. Whether teenagers drink at home or elsewhere, any kind of underage drinking IS adolescent alcohol abuse or child alcohol abuse.
  • Lifetime alcohol abuse is greatest for those who begin drinking at the age of 14. If youth are abusing alcohol at the age of 14, the risk for developing teen alcoholism increases significantly.
  • 40 percent of teens who begin drinking at 13 years of age or younger will develop an addiction to alcohol later in life. Regrettably, some of these young drinkers will become part of the teenage alcoholism statistics BEFORE they are adults.
  • Alcohol kills 6-1/2 times more teens than all of the other illicit drugs combined.
  • Teens in grades 7 through 12 consume 35% of the wine coolers sold in the United States. Keep in mind that it is very possible to get drunk on wine coolers. And many teens who are drinking alcohol are quite possibly suffering from adolescent alcohol abuse or teen alcoholism. Stated another way, if this many teenagers are engaging in abusing drinking by drinking wine coolers, is it not possible that some of these youth are also suffering from teen alcoholism?
  • Teens who binge drink receive C’s or lower twice as often as teens who do not abuse alcohol.
  • 10% of teens who start drinking alcohol at 17 years of age will develop alcohol dependence. And if teens are drinking at age 17, they are engaging in adolescent alcohol abuse.

What Makes Up One Drink?

Since one drink is defined as containing one-half of an ounce of pure ethyl alcohol, each of the following is considered to be one drink:

  • 10 ounces to 12 ounces of beer at 4% to 5% alcohol content
  • 8 ounces to 12 ounces of wine cooler at 4% to 5% alcohol content
  • 4 ounces to 5 ounces of table wine at 9% to 12% alcohol content
  • 2.5 ounces of fortified wine at 20% alcohol content
  • 1.25 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits at 40% alcohol content
  • 1 ounce of 100 proof distilled spirits at 50% alcohol content

Conclusion: Teenage Alcoholism

Research studies have revealed the following teenage alcoholism facts.

First, teenage alcoholism and alcohol abuse have been increasing as well as occurring at earlier ages.

Second, teenagers who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop a dependency on alcohol than those who begin drinking at 21 years of age.

Obviously, underage drinking, in the form of adolescent alcohol abuse and teen alcoholism, is a major problem that needs immediate attention.

Equipped with this information, our parents, educators, and political leaders need to educate and inform our young people about the dangers and the unhealthy consequences of alcohol abuse and alcoholism BEFORE they become teenagers.