It can be difficult to predict if a teen will eventually suffer from any type of addiction, but studies have shown that early exposure to alcohol can affect teens negatively and even cause continuing problems into adulthood. Adolescent binge drinking is known to increase the risk of psychiatric disorders including alcoholism when teens become adults.
Alcohol can be especially dangerous for teens because their brains are still developing and the drug can have damaging effects on the maturation process. Although not all teens will develop a problem if they are exposed to alcohol when they are young, there are plenty of risks inherent in teen drinking that should be avoided for their safety and well-being in the future.
Consequences of Adolescent Drinking
Teens that begin to drink even occasionally are at a much greater risk of suffering negative health and social outcomes compared to adults because they have not fully developed physically or mentally. There is a long list of adverse consequences to teen drinking including the strong possibility of being unable to quit later in life.
Teens are also more likely to suffer from side effects like appetite change, headaches and sleep disturbances. They are more likely to be involved in a car accident when drinking and driving or get injured in a drinking-related incident.
Teens are still growing in terms of their brain's development and their ability to cope with psychological issues which is why drinking can affect them more physically and emotionally. Alcohol exposure to teens can result in negative effects to their brain such as problems executive function and long-term memory.
They can sustain subtle brain damage and long-lasting cognitive deficits when they drink during their adolescent development. Teens may also find that their alcohol use increases depression and feelings of anxiety more than it would for an adult.
Academic and Social Impact of Alcohol
Alcohol can affect a teen later in life but it can also have immediate effects especially when it comes to their academic performance and social life. When teens drink alcohol they may struggle more in school and have deficiencies in learning and memory, verbal skills and visual-spatial cognition because of damage to the brain.
Alcohol problems in adolescence are tied to lower grades, poor attendance and an increased dropout rate. Drinkers are more likely to cut class or skip school, be disobedient and fall behind in their schoolwork.Even college students prove to have lower academic performance when they binge drink.
Alcohol use can cause other social problems, making it harder for teens to maintain friendships because it can increase aggressive behavior causing arguments and fights. Teens that are depressed because of their alcohol use can become more isolated and withdrawn from their peers. Their depression and anxiety is more likely to follow them into adulthood possibly leading to more serious psychiatric disorders.
Studies have proven that the earlier a person is introduced to alcohol, the more likely they are to develop an alcohol addiction in adulthood. Teens who begin drinking recreationally in middle school or high school may find that their alcohol use only escalates as they get older and develops into a full-fledged addiction.
The increased risk of alcoholism is only one of the many negative effects that drinking can have on young people. The more that they drink, the more damage they are causing to their brain, education and social life as they grow up.
It can be more difficult for young people to recover from the problems they have caused by binge drinking at a developmentally sensitive age. If they are able to quit drinking it can help improve their situation and prevent addiction in the future.