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Study reveals drinking contexts linked to early onset of alcohol dependence in teens
Mar 21 2019

Study reveals drinking contexts linked to early onset of alcohol dependence in teens

Addiction Teen Alcohol Addiction

Early onset of drinking and intoxication in teens has been identified as a primary risk factor for developing heavy drinking patterns, alcohol problems, and alcohol dependence, later in life, revealed a recently conducted study. So in order to delay or avert the chances of early onset of drinking, one needs to know more about the modifiable circumstances responsible for enabling these behaviors in teens or adolescents. The research was conducted by scientists at the Prevention Research Center (PRC) of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation and was published online in the journal Substance Use and Misuse.

As part of the research, the scientists at PRC identified the circumstances pertaining to the early onset of drinking in teens, by examining the relationships between early age instance of first intoxication, drinking in various contexts such as friend’s homes, own home, or outdoor settings, and problems that arise in those contexts. The early age of first intoxication was found to be less than 15 years.

33 percent adolescents got intoxicated before 15 years of age

While carrying out the research, scientists evaluated data pertaining to 405 teenagers, in the age group of 15-18 years, prone to drinking, from 24 mid-sized cities in California, in 2013 and 2014. During data analysis, the researchers focused upon measuring the age of first intoxication, frequencies of drinking at bars/nightclubs, restaurants, homes, outdoor places, and the issues that occurred after or during drinking in these selected places. The scientists assessed whether certain contexts or situations were associated with early age of intoxication and increasing number of problems.

On carrying out the assessment, the researchers found that around one-third of the adolescents who drank, had their first stint with intoxication by the age of 15, another one-third of them experienced it after 15 years, while the remaining one-third, though had used alcohol, never reached the state of intoxication. These young people reportedly drank more frequently in their homes, followed by outdoor settings, and then restaurants, nightclubs, or bars.

The early age of first intoxication was more specifically and highly associated with teens drinking at outdoor settings and not at other contexts, including homes. Also, the early age of first intoxication was associated with increased number of issues pertaining to drinking in outdoor settings, restaurants, and homes. Some of these problems included getting into a verbal spat, a physical fight, driving after drinking, and risky sexual behavior.

Some facts associated with adolescent binge drinking

One of the articles published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) stated that compared to adults, though adolescent and teen drinkers drank less frequently, they tended to drink higher quantities of alcohol per drinking episode. Underage drinkers in the age group of 12 to 20 usually drank around four to five drinks per sitting. This number is almost double the average of the two to three drinks consumed by adults older than 25 years.

The article further revealed that most of the alcohol consumption of underage teens took place during binge episodes highlighted by drinking large quantities of alcohol. This particular binge style of alcohol consumption has been linked to serious alcohol-related harms like alcohol poisoning, fatal injuries, and accidents as a result of severe intoxication. The adverse results of adolescent binge drinking not only impacts the adolescents themselves, but also their families, communities, and peers.

Knowing early onset drinking contexts helps develop preventive efforts

As per the research, if we know the contexts more closely associated with the early onset of drinking, it can pave the way for developing effective prevention efforts towards those aspects of young drinking environments.

Dr. Sharon Lipperman-Kreda, co-author of this research stated that the results of this study clearly suggested the significance of considering the contribution of contexts to the early onset of drinking and associated problems, in order to develop preventive interventions, specific to the relevant situations.

Consequences of drinking at an early age

If an individual gets addicted to alcohol early in life, it can have serious short- and long-term consequences such as confusion, reduced inhibitions, motor impairment, concentration problems, slurred speech, memory loss, breathing problems, coma, and even death. Some of the other problems associated with underage drinking include accidents, violent and risky behavior, suicide, and homicide.

If an underage individual consumes alcohol excessively, it can also have incapacitating consequences on their physical health. These can be:

  • Coordination issues and mood swings as an outcome of the disruption of communication pathways of the brain
  • Certain cardiac side-effects such as irregular heartbeat, cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure, and stroke
  • Liver disorders such as cirrhosis, hepatitis, fatty liver disease, and fibrosis
  • Weakened immune system leading to other diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis
  • Inflammation and swelling of the pancreatic blood vessels leading to pancreatitis
  • Various types of cancers
  • Changes in an individual’s brain chemistry leading to the development of a mental disorder

Recovery from alcoholism is possible

Social drinking in teenagers usually starts off as a casual affair and later assumes the form of compulsive alcohol seeking behavior. Hence it is important to re-examine the social drinking habits of teens and seek early help from professional rehabilitation centers. One of the first steps that ADEONA Healthcare at Rancho San Diego follows for the treatment of alcohol addiction in teens, is a well-designed detox program. After the detox program is over, the ensuing treatment begins during which the adolescents are taught various types of coping mechanisms with the aid of experiential and behavioral therapies.

A much sought-after addiction treatment center for adolescents and teens aged 12-17 in the U.S., ADEONA Healthcare of Rancho San Diego offers evidence-based treatment approaches for treating alcohol abuse in teens. If you know a teen addicted to alcohol at an early age and looking for treatment, then get in touch with our 24/7 helpline (888) 997-3966 and speak to a certified representative. You can also chat online with our representative to seek proper guidance and avail our customized world-class teen alcohol detox treatment at our teen alcohol treatment facility.