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The Urgency of Teen Alcohol Treatment

by James Heller 15. April 2009 11:50
April, 2009 marks the 22nd year of Alcohol Awareness Month.  

Tarzana Treatment Centers is participating with a series of articles meant to inform and educate the general public about alcohol abuse, dependence and treatment.  Considering that over 21 million Americans meet the criteria for alcohol abuse and over 53 million admit to past-month binge drinking, not to mention the many loved ones affected by each, our efforts are worthwhile.


Adolescent alcohol abuse does not need to become dependence before alcohol treatment is considered.  The damage can begin with the first time a teen gets drunk, depending on the amount used and if there is a health issue that can be aggravated.  

Some parents seem to accept that their teenager will go to parties and use alcohol.  In many cases there is a sense of relief that “at least he/she isn’t using drugs”.  They consider a hangover punishment enough, and, hopefully, a lesson that will keep the teen from repeating the act of heavy binge drinking.  Many times the lesson is indeed learned, but is it really worth it to risk a child’s future?

These parents will probably gain some insight from the Call to Action issued by the Acting Surgeon General in March, 2007, excerpted below.  At the very least, adolescent alcohol education groups should be considered for teens who occasionally binge drink.  For parents concerned that a real problem exists, outpatient and residential alcohol treatment, like adolescent programs at Tarzana Treatment Centers, can help.

-- Begin external content--

THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF UNDERAGE ALCOHOL USE

Underage drinking is a significant but often overlooked problem in the United States. Young people between the ages of 12 and 20 are more likely to use alcohol than use tobacco or illicit drugs, including marijuana. Although adolescents tend to drink less frequently than adults, they drink considerably more per occasion—5 drinks on average. Underage alcohol use, and especially binge drinking—a particularly harmful pattern of drinking—puts individuals at risk for a range of problems.

Despite the high prevalence of and the problems associated with underage drinking, many adults do not realize the extent of the problem, or do not view underage drinking as harmful. Many see alcohol use by teens as a “rite of passage” and may even facilitate it. Challenging this culture of acceptance is key to preventing and reducing underage drinking.

Alcohol use is intertwined with growing up in the United States. Both drinking and binge drinking ramp up dramatically during the teen years and into early adulthood. By age 15, approximately 50 percent of boys and girls have had a whole drink of alcohol; by age 21, approximately 90 percent have done so. Even more worrisome is the fact that many youth engage in binge drinking. National surveys indicate an increase in binge drinking days for girls through age 18 and boys through age 20. Among college students, about 80 percent drink alcohol, about 40 percent binge drink, and about 20 percent binge drink three or more times within a 2-week period. Among underage military personnel, 62.3 percent report drinking alcohol at least once a year and 21.3 percent report heavy alcohol use.

The number of young people who drink and the way they drink results in a wide range of negative consequences affecting large numbers of underage drinkers and those around them. These consequences include risky sexual behavior; physical and sexual assaults; potential effects on the developing brain; problems in school, at work, and with the legal system; various types of injury; car crashes; homicide and suicide; and death from alcohol poisoning.

In addition, early initiation of drinking is associated with alcohol dependence both during adolescence and later in life. According to a landmark survey on the drinking habits of Americans, the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), the highest prevalence of alcohol dependence is among 18- to 20-year-olds.

-- Source: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA73/AA73.htm --

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles makes a daily effort to find treatment news articles that we can share with our readers in the alcohol and drug treatment community.  The external content was found among other articles of equal informational and educational quality.