Adolescence is a period where there is rapid development and changes that happen to youngsters. It is during this period that teenagers are believed to have a need to test their independence and rights. It is also during this stage of development that an interplay of internal and external factors influence and impact teenagers’ daily activities that make them prone to try new things: experiment on the latest fad, satisfy their curiosity on drugs, smoking, or alcohol.
In the United States, “federal law establishes 21 as the national minimum drinking age. Underage drinking is also governed by state laws, which vary by state. In some states, it is a civil offense and in some states it is a criminal offense” (US Legal par. 1). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified underage drinking as a major health problem with clearly identified risks. Accordingly, the CDC cited Eaton, Kann and Kinchen as indicating that: “the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, during the past 30 days: 42% drank some amount of alcohol; 24% binge drank; 10% drove after drinking alcohol; and 28% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol” (Eaton, Kann and Kinchen 1). Other relevant surveys cited by the CDC reveal the following facts:
• In 2008 the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 28% of youth aged 12 to 20 years drink alcohol and 19% reported binge drinking (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 3).
• In 2009, the Monitoring
the Future Survey reported that 37% of 8th graders and 72% of 12th graders had tried alcohol, and 15% of 8th graders and 44% of 12th graders drank during the past month (Johnston et al. 1). Due to the alarming statistics revealed by national surveys on teenage drinking, it is imperative to determine the causes and effects of this dilemma. Causes of Teenage Drinking According to MedicineNet, the causes for teenage drinking are predominantly family risk factors and individual risk factors. For family risk factors, the following were identified: “low levels of parent supervision or communication, family conflicts, inconsistent or severe parental discipline, and a family history of alcohol or drug abuse” (MedicineNet 3). On the other hand, some factors particularly identified to the individual are “problems managing impulses, emotional instability, thrill-seeking behaviors, and perceiving the risk of using alcohol to be low” (MedicineNet 3). The website likewise revealed that there are increased tendencies for girls and teens with mothers having drinking problems to develop alcoholism. Another finding was the link between close relationships with the mother precludes developing drinking problems, especially for the 16 to 18 year-old group range. Effects of Teenage Drinking The CDC has effectively enumerated consequences of teenage drinking, as follows: school problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades; social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities; legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk; physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses; unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity; disruption of normal growth and sexual development; physical and sexual assault; higher risk for suicide and homicide; alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning; memory problems; abuse of other drugs; changes in brain development that may have life-long effects; and death from alcohol poisoning (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) par. 4). Recommendation Given the identified causes and effects of teenage drinking, families, especially mothers are encouraged to develop close relationshi