Alarmingly research in Australia has revealed that most teenagers who drink aren’t buying their own alcohol but are most often being given alcohol by their parents.
Parents may believe that giving alcohol to teens is a way of actually keeping them out of trouble by encouraging them to drink in their presence rather than behind their back, parents need to realise the physical effects of alcohol on a developing adolescent.
The culture of binge drinking has become an extremely problematic one in Oz, with most teenagers drinking to unacceptable levels causing them to engage in dangerous activities which threaten their health and wellbeing, but what is even more concerning is that most of these teen binge drinkers are actually obtaining alcohol from an adult rather than buying it from RSA staff themselves.
Something parents should remember is that binge drinking may not seem dangerous now but in addition to serious immediate and long term health effects, it can lead to the use of other drugs. It is commonly referred to as a “gateway drug” because it can open the door for other illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and heroin.
Alcohol is a drug that works directly on the central nervous system. Studies show that alcohol kills more male teenagers and young men than any other drug taken to affect mood and behaviour including heroin, cocaine and marijuana.
Numerous studies have in the past discovered strong links between drinking early in life (ie. adolescence) and becoming a binge drinker later in life, many of whom progress on to alcohol addictions.
In teens whose bodies are still developing and do not have any alcohol tolerance the problem of alcohol poisoning is particularly rife and potentially deadly. It is caused by alcohol slowing down the body’s functions such as breathing, heart rate, and gag reflex, thereby potentially leading to choking, coma, stopped breathing, stopped heart, and death.
Waiters, bartenders, liquor store attendants etc. should ensure that they are not contributing to any of these teenage problems by asking everyone who looks under 23 for their proof of age and denying service to any underage patrons.
Parents who demonstrate responsible behaviour and drink moderately and responsibly are the best teachers for children to learn good drinking habits, conversely parents who abuse alcohol and get out of hand every time they drink are likely to pass on bad habits to their kids.
Not convinced? Then consider these damaging effects on youth:
- Young, under developed organs can literally be poisoned by alcohol.
- The liver can be damaged irreparably. It takes a few days for it to recover and to get back to normal functioning after a ‘session’ of binge drinking
- A session of binge drinking can cause the heart beat to be so irregularly that it can stop.
- The body can drop its temperature and suffer hypothermia. Every year some teens die when they get drunk and pass out in the freezing cold.
- Too little sugar in the body can cause coma and seizures.
- Breathing can become so shallow or slow that it can stop.
- Disturbingly, one of the most common occurrences resulting in teen death from alcohol is when they choke on the own vomit because they are unconscious and breathe in the vomit. The body doesn’t get the oxygen needed resulting in brain damage and death.