Parents today have a lot more to worry about than parents from just a generation ago. Social media has opened gateways to unprecedented connectivity that allows young people to have almost unlimited information literally at their fingertips. The problem is that teens generally don’t have the social maturity to filter out potentially negative influences, including those that encourage them to experiment with drugs and alcohol, leading to alcoholism and drug abuse.
Peer pressure has always been a teenage problem, and most teens encounter pressure to consume drugs or alcohol at some point. However, today’s teenagers are burdened by 24/7 social expectations. The pervasiveness of social media has caused teens to begin experimenting with substance abuse at an increasingly earlier age. In the U.S., the average age for a child’s first drink of alcohol is now 13 for girls and 11 for boys.
In the case of alcohol, consumption doesn’t always stop at the experimentation stage. For certain teens, drinking at a young age leads to future substance abuse.
Drinking Alone Puts Teens at a Higher Risk for Substance Abuse
Although it might make more sense that teens who drink with friends would have a higher risk of developing alcohol dependency down the road, the opposite is true.
In fact, studies show that teens who drink alone are the ones more likely to struggle with alcoholism as they enter adulthood. In a joint study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, over 700 young adults were asked about their drinking habits. Researchers found that teens and 20-somethings who drank alone had a 50 percent higher chance of developing alcoholism by age 25 than their counterparts who drank with others.
According to researchers, young people who drink alone may be turning to alcohol in an attempt to cope with emotional disturbances, depression, and negative external factors.
The Alcohol Problem in the United States
Although the abuse of prescription painkillers has received a great deal of attention over the past few years, alcoholism remains the leading substance abuse problem in this country. Alcohol kills 88,000 Americans every year, making it the fourth-leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.
Moreover, a significant portion of individuals with an alcohol use disorder are young people. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that about 679,000 children and teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 had some form of alcohol dependency in 2014.
Is Your Child Struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcoholism is not just an “adult” problem. If your child or teen is consuming alcohol, it’s important to get help as early as possible. At Summit Behavioral Health, we offer a variety of programs for teens. Speak to an addiction specialist today to get answers and explore options.