Teenage Drinking

The Statistics

The Health and Social Care Information Centre’s 2014 report documents the drinking habits of teenagers.

Of the 11-15 year olds surveyed:

  • 8% had drunk alcohol in the last week
  • 22% of those who had drunk alcohol in the past week had drunk 15 units or more in that week
  • Girls were more likely to report having been drunk than boys (10%, compared with 7%)

The number of 11-15 year olds who had tried alcohol (38%) was the lowest since the surveys began. Despite this, the concerning factor is that there were still 13,725 under-18s admitted to hospital with alcohol related problems between 2011 and 2014.

Why do Teenagers drink?

It’s easy for adults to dismiss teen drinking as an act of youthful rebellion but the reasons teenagers start drinking can be complicated.

Peer Pressure is always one of the major factors. Teenagers may feel the need to keep up with the “trend” which is being emphasised through popular culture, e.g. TV and films.

Teenagers may drink to distract themselves if they are having problems at school or at home. Puberty is a tough time and teenagers may wrongly think drinking is a way to cope.

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Affecting Teenager’s health

Teenagers often think they’re invincible when drinking, but doing so at a young age can severely damage their health. Short term effects can include bad breath, bad skin and weight gain.

But the more worrying potential effect is damage to the brain, since it is still developing at this age.

The Chief Medical Officer has reported concerns that heavy drinking at under twenty years old is associated with abnormalities in brain areas dealing with motivation, reasoning and interpersonal interactions.

Acute alcohol poisoning is another major risk. This is when the level of alcohol gets so high that the brain’s vital functions, which include breathing control, are blocked.

Nearly 4000 children were hospitalised with alcohol poisoning last year, some died! Even if breathing is not stopped, the person can slip into an alcohol coma and may die by choking on their own vomit.

There are of course many more risks related to drinking and not just to those of a young age.

Talking to your Teenager about Alcohol

Having an open and honest talk is often the best way to explain the dangers of drinking alcohol.

They may say it is unfair how parents lecture them about the dangers and then proceed to drink themselves, but you must point out that whilst large amounts are harmful to every drinker, they realise it is even more dangerous to young people.

Let them know that they can come to you with any problems or worries that they may have, and let them know that alcohol abuse is not the solution to any of their problems.

Take it further. Use these helpful links below to find out useful information on talking to your teenager about alcohol. Or get help with our family support services.

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