Alcoholism In Youth | Guest Post by Kevin Repass
The early warning of becoming an alcoholic was always there for me at a young age. I had my first drink and my first experience being drunk at the age of 14. I fell in love with the effects of intoxication and it would follow me for years to come. Drinking and alcoholism at a young age is becoming more and more common. According to DrugRehab, 14 is actually the average age people first try alcohol and consequently, 29% of 12th graders engage in binge drinking. I struggled with alcoholism half my life, from the age of 14 to the age of 30. It all started with that first drink at 14. I know firsthand it is extremely easy, especially at a young age, for our youth to fall victim to this disease. I would say, however, it’s a lot more difficult to stop.
Factors In Youthful Drinking
I believe there are numerous factors in our youth that can play into our desire to drink. The house and environment we live in, family members, the schools we attend and the people we associate ourselves with as a teenager can all influence youthful alcoholism. Growing up with abusive or alcoholic parents and family members can easily lead to a teenager following in their footsteps. Alcohol helps them cope with the troubles at home and figure its okay to drink since their family is doing it as well. Getting picked on or bullied at school can also be a factor. Drinking is a way to escape any fears, problems, stresses or “growing pains” teens face as they navigate towards gaining an identity and becoming an adult. Some teenagers drink because it makes them feel more comfortable and confident in a social environment. High school and college parties, spring break, holidays, social gatherings and events such as homecoming and prom commonly involve alcohol and in a lot of cases, binge drinking.
The Other End of the Spectrum
Drinking at a young age can lead to behavioral problems and affect grades in school. While it is true that teenagers drink to celebrate or for fun and entertainment, that isn’t always the case. Teenagers are a lot more susceptible to peer pressure and can be influenced easier, especially by their older counterparts. A teenager might drink because all their friends do and they want to “be cool” or fit in. Teenagers who have problems at home and in school or struggle with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are more likely to drink for the sake of self-medication. They drink to deal with the aforementioned growing pains. Young drinkers who struggle with any or all of these issues have more tendency to isolate and drink by themselves. Instead of reaching out to others about their problems, they prefer to wear a mask and pretend everything is fine. Behind closed doors, they hide and drown it out with alcohol. Alcohol becomes the solution to these youthful problems, rather than a problem itself. The key for teens who struggle with alcoholism, regardless of rhyme and reason, is to find someone they can open up to and discuss their problems with. Bottling everything up can lead to picking up the bottle.
Kevin Repass is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. He is a writer for https://yourfirststep.org/ a south Florida-based company dedicated to providing resources and information to all those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.