Essay: Teenage Alcohol Drinking in UK

Government and social organisations of the United Kingdom are concerned with the problem of teenage alcohol drinking. The results of the last survey show sad statistics. They show that the percentage of the young people who consume alcohol grows through the last years.

Specialists detect the general growth of the heavy or light drinkers among the teenagers between 11 and 15 years. These results were achieved by the British Medial Association and published the report called “Alcohol and Young People”. These results are so frightening because teenage alcoholism or even alcohol consuming can become a very dangerous problem for the society.

Statistics shows that not only the number of teenagers of 11-15 years old who consume alcohol have increased but also that the amounts of the alcohol they drink became bigger. The results also show that by the age of 13 more than half of teenagers consume alcohol drinks either regularly or from time to time. “Among 11-15 year olds who do drink, the average weekly rose from 5.3 units in 1990 to 10.7 units in 2004”(Bates, B. et al).

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The age between 11 and 18 is very important, as it’s the age of formation and development. All habits, skills and behavioural patterns achieved during this period will most probably have a long-time effect for all further life of the teenager and his or her surrounding. So, alcohol abuse during the period of youth creates a big danger of alcohol abuse during all further life. This can be a hidden danger also, when normal person turns to alcohol during the periods of depression or any kinds of hardships, remembering his early years. In addition, alcohol has different effects on the organism of grown up person and a teenager. For teenager negative influence of alcohol is much more dangerous and harder to cure. Same statistics show one more sad tendency. Percentage of female alcohol addicted teenagers is higher than the one of male teenagers. For female organisms alcohol is usually more dangerous and addiction is stronger. Especially these effects are strong when we talk about fragile teenager organism.

Specialists call several possible reasons of teenage alcoholism but most of them can be divided into two major categories – internal and external. Internal reasons appear inside the person and in this case teenager starts drinking to get rid of some negative feelings, such as despair, depression, grief, anger, frustration, etc. These cases very often copy the behaviour of parents or close surrounding when children see that problems are resolved with the help of an alcohol. Another group of reasons called external includes the pressure from the surrounding, TV advertising, social norms and standards, etc. All these factors include external active or passive pressure on the teenager. In other words, teenagers drink to get rid of their problems or to increase their popularity and to get a higher social status in some social group. For teenagers, whose physics is very easy to influence very often drinking becomes the way to show their new social statues of “adults”. Some researches all peer group pressure as the main factor of teenage alcohol consumption. Alcohol advertisement companies, oriented especially on teenagers also create temptation for teens. “After the first appearance of alcoholic lemonades and other “alcopops” or “ready to drink” (RTD) brands, the drinks industry focused a great deal of energy on the development of new “designer drinks” due to their apparent appeal to the youth market.” (-Newburn and Shiner, 2001). Alcopops hide double danger – they look attractive and taste good and teens, who drink them not always realise possible danger. Percentage of those teenagers who drink alcopops drops as they grew older but very often alcopops or beer become the first alcohol drinks teenagers try. Alcohol drinking causes big number of problems, which include antisocial behaviour, violence, and aggression. Some crimes, such as drink-driving are the direct consequence of an alcohol use. Statistics show that many crimes teenagers commit are connected with an alcohol use. There is another specific factor about teenage alcohol drinking. Very often teens drink alcohol before sexual intercourse. Lack of self-assurance and search for new impressions make teenagers turn to alcohol as some kind of doping. The situation of alcohol consumption is complicated by the confused sexual contacts and not using contraception. The number of pregnancies among teenagers is associated with alcohol use.
British association called Alcohol Concern has developed a number of strategies, which aim to reduce teenage alcoholism.

These strategies include:

  • alcohol education, which would timely inform teenagers about the dangers of alcoholism;
  • control over the drinking families and reducing the number of drinking parents as one of the factors, which cause teenage alcoholism;
  • rigid control over the alcohol selling and special instructions for shop-assistants in order to teach them to deal with under age alcohol buyers.

References
1. Bates, B. et al. (2005) Smoking, drinking and drug use among young teenagers in 2002: A survey carried out on behalf of the Department of Health by the National Centre for Social Research and the National Foundations for Educational Research, The Stationery Office, London.
2. Newburn, T. and Shiner, M. (2001) Teenage kicks? Young people and alcohol: a review of the literature, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, York.
3. Department for Culture, Media and Sport (2005) Children and The Licensing Act 2003
www.culture.gov.uk/alcohol_and_entertainment/licensing_act_2003/children.htm
4. http://www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/files/20051124_143141_young%20people%20factsheet%20-%20updated%20Nov%202005.pdf

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