Alcohol is a powerful depressant that alters the function of neurotransmitters within the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that pass along messages from one part of the body to another in order to control processes, emotions, behaviors and overall bodily function. When presented with alcohol, these neurotransmitters slow down resulting in a delay between the sending and receiving of messages, which ultimately affect speech, movement, recognition and mood.
Alcohol and Young Adults
Alcohol remains the most oft-abused substance by young adults due to easy availability, peer acceptance, and affordability. It’s not uncommon to find beer, liquor, or wine in nearly every home in America, and due to the accessibility of the substance, alcohol use amongst teens and young adults can be a real problem.
While many teens drink casually with their friends without any real recourse, there are numerous young adults that aren’t quite so lucky.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), there are approximately 5,000 deaths each year to young adults (under 21 years of age) as a result of underage drinking. This includes nearly 2,000 motor vehicle accidents, over 1,500 homicides, 300 suicides, and numerous other injuries related to accidents while under the influence, such as: slip and falls, burns, and drowning.
Why is alcohol abuse amongst teens and young adults so dangerous?
Besides the aforementioned death tolls each year, young adults face numerous additional risks when drinking that they may not be aware of. One of the biggest of these risks is the danger of binge drinking. When young adults drink, they tend to overdo it. According to the NIAAA, approximately 14.2-percent of all young adults engage in binge drinking, which is defined as:
“A pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men – in about 2 hours.”
In addition, the rate of heavy drinking amongst young adults is also quite high (about 3.7-percent – or 1.4-million teens). Heavy drinking is defined as:
“Drinking 5 or more drinks on the same occasion on each of 5 or more days in the past 30 days.”
Heavy or binge drinking aside, there are also numerous studies showing an increased risk for alcoholism in adulthood by those that start drinking in their early teens or partake in binging, or heavy drinking behavior throughout their teen years.
Additionally, research shows that brain development may be affected by heavy or continued drinking in the developmental years. The brain continues to develop well into the twenties, and alcohol use may stall development in key areas leading to a wide range of problems such as depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety.
Teens may also be unaware that those who drink are also more likely to be involved in sexual assault, either as a victim or the one perpetrating the attack.
What leads young adults to drink?
While most young adults know the risks of drinking, they tend to think of it as a relatively safe activity if done in moderation, or while not driving. Alas, this couldn’t be further from the truth as serious injuries and death from alcohol impairment are well documented.
The reasons teens drink are numerous but peer pressure and perceived invincibility only build upon unreliable educational information that detail the dangers of drunk driving and binge drinking.
Ultimately, the reasons teens drink are varied, but the importance of sobriety during the developing years cannot be understated. Substance abuse during the teen and young adult years often lead to permanent and irreversible damage as well as an increased likelihood for substance abuse or mental health issues later in life. Many of these problems are irreversible even after cessation of alcohol use.
It’s important to relay information that is both factual and relevant that details the often forgotten risks, as well as the compounding dangers of continuous drinking, or binge/heavy drinking.
How Burning Tree West Can Help
At Burning Tree West, we recognize that legal substances (although illegal to underage users) don’t equate to “safe” substances. No matter the substance or the legality, once substance abuse starts, it’s often very difficult to treat without assistance. Our program subscribes to the 12 step principles and as such we believe in a better existence through sobriety. Our aim is to pass these principles on to your young adult while teaching valuable life skills in a sober community of like-minded individuals where your loved one can prepare for the future through job and educational opportunities.
If your teen or young adult struggles with alcohol abuse, our trained professionals are here to help.
Contact us today.