Contrary to widespread assumption, the vast majority of teenagers will not in fact develop serious alcohol problems or lead dangerous and unhealthy lifestyles. Nevertheless, there will always be rather large groups of teenagers and adolescents that find themselves falling into detrimental habits during this particularly vulnerable life period.
On the plus side, it’s extremely rare for any case of teenage alcohol abuse to continue to such a point as local alcohol rehabilitation centres become necessary. Nevertheless, in order to avoid such outcomes entirely it makes sense to work toward preventing alcohol abuse in the first place – the key lying in acknowledging what exactly triggers alcohol abuse.
Of course, specific triggers vary exponentially from one person to the next as no two teenagers will ever be identical. Nevertheless, there are certain reasons why teenagers turn to alcohol of which some are more common than others.
For example, peer pressure has the potential to be both influential and problematic at any time in life, though is particularly strong during adolescence. The reason being that this is exactly the time in life where young adults are still exploring their own personalities, making important social connections and trying to fit in. This in turn can lead to quite a lot of bad decision making on the part of those concerned – especially when drugs and alcohol are brought into the equation.
There also comes a time during adolescence when teenagers no longer want to be treated like children and instead want to be both treated like and act like adults. And as things like alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs in general are more closely associated with adults, many teenagers turn to such substances as a means by which to look and feel more grown up. All of which is precisely why it is of the utmost importance for parents, teachers, caregivers and responsible adults in general to set the best possible example.
Adolescence has the potential to be a bewildering stage in life when and where there is still so much more you haven’t seen, tried and experienced than you have in fact be exposed to. This can lead to the kind of curiosity which although healthy and productive in some instances can also lead teenagers down entirely the wrong path. They find themselves in a position where they don’t know what it is they are getting themselves into, making the decision to try something out for the first time and summarily discovering that “just this once” is very rarely the way things pan out.
Another common trigger of alcohol abuse during adolescence is boredom. It is no secret that the average teenager has an attention span comparable to that of a goldfish – even when groups of teenagers get together, they may find it difficult to find anything worthwhile to do with their time. And this is precisely why alcohol and drugs often enter the mix, as a means by which to temporarily banish boredom without realising the harm or the dangers.
Teenagers are just as (if not more) susceptible to stress, anxiety, depression and a wide variety of other psychological and emotional issues than adults. Just as it is the case with adults suffering from any such conditions, self-medication by way of alcohol or drug abuse often represents what appears to be a simple and easy way out. It could also be that the teenager in question simply does not have the confidence or social skills they feel they need, which in turn leads them to turn to alcohol and begin building a dependence.
An obvious entry to say the least, there will always be plenty of teenagers who turn to drugs and alcohol for the specific reason that they know they should not be doing so. Periods of rebellion are usually short lived and tend to occur mostly in instances when parents are overly strict, overprotective or passive-aggressive. When a teenager feels that they are living under unfair terms and conditions beyond their control, they often feel they can take back control by rebelling.
It’s also true to say that a quite enormous proportion of the teenage population genuinely has no idea whatsoever just how harmful alcohol and other recreational drugs can be. They see them painted in a variety of manners in popular culture and due to a general lack of relevant education believe there to be no harm in trying them out. This often tends to represent the beginning of an extremely slippery slope.
Fun and games
Last but not least, many teenagers despite understanding every possible risk and danger involved in alcohol and drug use will nevertheless continue to use them for pure enjoyment purposes. Which when you think about it is exactly the same case with adults – we all understand the risks attached to drug and alcohol use and make our decisions accordingly. The only difference being that for many teenagers, knowing where to draw the line and say no can be a much bigger challenge.