Alcoholism is by definition is a disease that causes cravings, loss of control, physical dependence, and tolerance to alcohol. Alcohol is damaging to the liver, brain, heart, and can cause many other diseases. It does not discriminate.
There are many misconceptions about alcohol dependence and alcoholism.
1. You have to be old
2. You have to have had a serious life experience
3. You must have to be constantly drinking
4. You have to have depression or another mental illness
5. Binge drinking is not bad and doesn't attribute to alcoholism
All of these are false. Anyone who consumes alcohol puts themselves at risk of developing a dependency on alcohol. Not just white middle-aged men. While the media plays this stereotype up, there’s much more alcoholism in many races and backgrounds.
Teenagers are more likely to engage in drinking at parties and social gatherings. It's no secret that binge drinking is the college style of drinking. Just thinking about certain games you play - getting stuck on the bus or losing the ring of fire. This is easy 5 shots over 20-30 minutes.
Drinking games. Taking pulls. Mixing different alcohols. Doing other drugs. All of these are ways teens binge drink and pug themselves not only in immediate danger but the risk of developing a dependency to alcohol.
Alcohol is a huge problem because it leads to dependence and risky behavior. Teenagers do not have the capacity to consume alcohol based on the development of the brain. The brain is not fully developed until age 25, so teens do not have the biological maturity to be consuming alcohol. The part that is lastly developed and refined is The prefrontal cortex where decision making is held. The function of alcohol is to inhibit judgement, so naturally making decisions is more difficult.
According to the Department of Health Services, ten million teens drink alcohol regularly. This number is WAY too high. It is more common in those with a mental illness and teens who drink alcohol are four times more likely to attempt suicide. The hardest part about being a teenager is figuring out who you are and making sense of the world. Now think about how hard it would be to cope with all the stress and be hooked on alcohol.
We have to start this conversation about binge drinking and excessive alcohol intake in teenagers because it is often seen as taboo to address. By ignoring the problem we are fueling the platform for alcoholism to occur. Giving a name to teenage alcoholism allows for conversations to start. It’s okay to talk about alcohol and safe consumption.