Gateway Technical College
Teenage Alcohol Abuse/Addiction
Dennis Markus, MSW, LCSW, C-SAC
Tracy L. Murray (Rego) MSW, LCSW, CTS
11 November 2009
The dangers of teenage alcohol abuse are underestimated in our country due to the social acceptability of the drug alcohol. The social acceptability of alcohol itself is seen by the frequency it is categorized separately from other drugs and substances when we talk about use and abuse. Alcohol is a drug but our nation and the media do not want to call it one or treat it like one. Alcohol is a legal drug abused by many teenagers and this paper will address some of the issues today’s teenagers face when dealing with alcohol.
Teenagers can get involved in experimenting with alcohol in a variety of ways. Some parents allow their kids to drink at home or have a drink on special occasions like Christmas or at a wedding. Other teenagers begin drinking with their friends and experiment to get drunk. Many kids equate getting drunk with having a good time. Peer pressure can induce some teenagers to drink even when they really don’t want to. A serious problem is alcohol affects children and teenagers differently than adults and they don’t know their limits (Dolmetsch & Mauricette, 1987).
In Europe the per capita consumption of alcohol is higher than here in the United States but the rate of alcohol abuse and alcoholism is lower. In Europe children are taught drinking in moderation through having a glass of wine with dinner or lunch and it is something done with the family in moderation. Here in the United States alcohol consumption under the age of 21 is illegal which makes it the forbidden fruit for teenagers and children. Unlike Europe, our children are not taught to drink alcohol in moderation and it is something to sneak off and do secretly if you are going to try it before the age of 21. This leads to misinformation and binge drinking due to teenagers not knowing their limits because they have never been exposed to alcohol in a controlled or safe environment (Whelan, 1997).
Alcohol affects everyone differently depending on their physical condition, diet, and emotional state. Alcohol can have detrimental effects on many areas of the body such as the mouth, throat, stomach, intestines, liver, pancreas, and heart. A heavy drinker may suffer from cancer of the mouth and throat due to long-term heavy drinking. Alcohol increases the stomachs production of acid which leads to gastritis and ulcers. Alcohol interferes with the intestinal process of absorbing nutrients from foods and can cause diarrhea. When a liver is overloaded with alcohol it can result in: inflammation of the liver called alcoholic hepatitis, scarring of the liver tissue called cirrhosis, and weight gain due to the liver burning alcohol instead of the normal amount of body fat it usually burns. Alcohol interferes with the functioning of the pancreas which normally helps digest food and process sugar. Alcohol can also cause an inflammation of the pancreas called pancreatitis or pancreatic insufficiency which is where the pancreas does not function properly anymore. There may also be a link between cancer of the pancreas and alcohol. While moderate drinking may help reduce the risk of heart attack by helping people relax and slightly raising blood pressure and heart rate, heavy drinking can seriously raise blood pressure where it is life threatening and increase risk of heart attack (Ryan, 1995). Alcohol itself does not seem to be the cause of cancer but it seriously weakens the bodies defenses against cancer. Alcohol does cause damage to the brain and the nervous system. When an alcoholic goes through withdrawals it is called delirium tremens or DT’s and the person will usually suffer from trembling, sweating, hallucinations, disorientation, and confusion. Severe...
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