Underage drinking has been on the rise in the United States and evidence from the media indicates the trend has been on the rise year by year. Increased teenage drinking has been cited one of the main problems in the American society. Nearly 80% of people in America admit to have consumed alcohol, if not addicted to it during their high school or college times. Teenage drinking is precipitated by wide number of causes . Nonetheless, the underlying factor behind teenage drinking in America revolves around the teenagers’ environment (DeJong 182). The home environment, school environment, and peer influence have been cited as key causes of underage drinking. Teenage drinking is a trend, which has been there for an eon. It is paramount to note that it has proven difficult to curb teenage drinking. Majority of successful people in America have confessed to have excessively used alcohol and, in some cases, other kinds of drugs .
However, while the rates of teenage drinking still remain high, various agencies are combining their efforts to curb the vice. Different government agencies, media houses, activist groups and non-governmental foundations promote the idea that underage drinking is disastrous and risky (Keeling 106). It is vital to note the entire society should not relent, but to put up the fight against the vice, in order to rescue the young generation. Underage drinking is not a new trend, and its causes remain prevalent; the society and the government agencies should provide an environment that discourages teenage alcoholism, if the vice has to be eliminated.
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Causes of Teenage Drinking
The problem of teenage drinking has been prevalent in America for over fifty years. The transition young boys and girls go through to manhood and womanhood respectively is characterized by rebellion and experimentation. The entry of showbiz industry has influenced teenagers to believe that alcoholism oils the wheels of celebrity forward. This scenario was aggravated by the mass media including musicians and celebrities. Majority of the young people indulge alcohol as an opportunity for a new lifestyle (Wolfe and Clark 455). The rebellious culture developed by these youngsters resulted to their parents and teachers adopting the “get tough” approach to them. It is general knowledge that a rebel likes an angrier response, which gives them a reason to rebel stringently. The tough response they receive from their authorities in relation to drinking forces them to escalate the drinking behavior.
Underage drinking has been attributed largely to the behavior portrayed by parents of these teenagers. A family that portrays a culture of drinking, where both parents are addicted to alcohol, entices their children to adopt drinking at an early age. Lack of proper nurturing predisposes these teenagers to drinking as a form of solace. During the adolescent age, many children experience psychological stress and lack of parental guidance, which cause them to turn to drinking (Borsari and Carey 150). Genetically, it is clear that children whose parents are addicted to alcohol, have a high likelihood of indulging in alcoholism wherever they experience psychological distress. It is fundamental to note that such psychological distresses are common while the person is in his teens. They turn into alcoholism as a consolation, but they end up being addicted.
Social and Economic Conditions
Third, teenage drinking has been attributed to harsh social and economic conditions. There are no recreational activities both in the rural and in urban areas. This has resulted to boredom that force youths to group up, engage in drinking, and cause mischief. The youths have immense energy, and therefore, seek a way out to get rid of it. Lack of recreational activities for the youth poses the question on what are the priorities of the society concerning the young regeneration (Borsari and Carey 149). Insufficient sporting arenas and unemployment are prevalent among the youth in America. Hard economic times affecting Americans are a key cause of teenage drinking. Whereas majority of the youths in America have no jobs, they turn to drinking as a mean to dull their pain emanating from their difficult lives and dismal prospects.
Drinking as a Cool Behavior
For decades, youngsters have considered the aspect of teenage drinking as a sign of smart behavior. In high school, for instance, teenager groups form a peer who is primarily characterized by drinking. Any student, who does not associate with the group, is considered as not “cool” and is shunned from the rest (Keeling 105). With every friend being in the group, teenagers are coerced to join the group. Drinking habit is eminent in these groups and is considered as a status symbol. This habit is largely spread by peer influence. When peers are engaged in the drinking habit, the fellow teens are forced to join them. The habit of drinking in high school and colleges ends up becoming addictive. This trend of peer groups has been in existence in our schools and colleges for decades (Keeling 105). It is the duty of school and college authorities to ensure such groups are eliminated, and alcohol does not get its way into the hands of students.
Stress from Love Life
Causes of teenage alcoholism in America cannot be exhausted without mentioning teen’s love life. Teens have resorted to drinking as a way of suppressing memories of their problems. Love relationships are common with teenagers, and are characterized by challenges. When teenagers experience problems in their relationships, they tend to feel demoralized. If the relationship break up, the teenagers console themselves with excessive drinking (Borsari and Carey 152). The young people are not aware, that alcohol will not serve as a remedy to their problems. Whereas such causes may be solely blamed on the teenagers, it is noteworthy that parents have a role to play. Discouraging teenagers about their engagement in early relationships can help eliminate the drinking problem.
Finally, drinking is a means of escapism for teenagers tired with what they are doing. When in school, students may consider alcoholism a means of escaping from their studies. When they are tired studying, the turn to drinking to relax their mind. The highness they feel after drinking convinces them that alcoholism is the path to escape their problems (Adams B1). It is also prevalent in youths who face financial problems and are psychologically distressed.
Is alcoholism a New Trend?
It is imperative to state that alcoholism amongst the youths is not a newly stated issue. It is a societal problem, which counts more than fifty years. Teenage alcoholism has been inevitable since the needs of the American youth have been neglected, and this only escalates the problem of underage drinking (Borsari and Carey 154).
Discouraging Teenage Drinking
Although teenage drinking has been declared a societal problem, there is still hope that if it is is handled with the concern it deserves, it can be eliminated. Teenagers can be discouraged from drinking, if they are enlightened on the consequences it brings. Responsibility for this lies on parents, and the society. Parents should nurture their children, as well as avoid drinking. Youths need to be equipped with the statistics of the deaths caused by drinking. Government agencies; such as, “The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association” should be in the front line to educate the youth (Keeling 107). The report submitted by the association in 2004, indicated that number of deaths caused by alcohol consumption is 6.5 times higher than number of deaths caused by any other kind of drugs abuse.
The federal government should also put in place stringent measures to discourage teenage drinking. Alcohol sale should be prohibited to people of teenage age. Severe punishment for teenage drinkers should be put in place to curb the vice.
Whereas teenage drinking may be overlooked, it is worth noting that it is a problem, which poses a key challenge to the society. The causes of teenager drinking are imminent and unless they are dealt with, teenage drinking will continue. It is paramount for parents and other authorities to nurture youngsters, and discourage them from drinking. In addition, it is worth pointing out the government has a substantial role to play in elimination of this problem. Parents, teachers, and state agencies should be aware that the problem is deeply rooted in the American youth and should therefore place concrete measures to deal with it.
Teenage drinking can not be considered a new trend. The issue has existed for some time now. Teenagers drink for different reasons and the main ones include broken relationships, peer influence, influence from celebrity lifestyle, copying from alcohol addicted parents, and as a means of escapism. Teenage drinking has been a major problem in the United States, which calls for more efforts to eliminate the vice. Governmental and non-governmental agencies should combine their efforts to eliminate the problem. As charity begins at home, parents should be the best influence for teenagers.
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