The teenage years are a time when young people try to form an identity and fit in with their peers. They’re usually under pressure to perform at school and at sports. Getting into college is competitive and many teens are afraid of disappointing their parents or disappointing themselves. They may be experiencing problems at home, with their friends or in romantic relationships. Teenagers are more impulsive than adults and sometimes act before considering the consequences. These are some of the factors that influence teenagers to abuse alcohol.
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According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, teenagers who have family members with a history of substance abuse are at risk for alcohol and drug abuse. If the teen has grown up in a household where one or both parents abuses alcohol, it might seem normal or an acceptable behavior to him. He also has more access to alcohol if his parents are drinking. Of course, the opposite can occur. A teen can be hurt and disgusted by his parents alcohol abuse, and refuse to follow that path.
Some adolescents have a hard time coping with the daily stress of being a teenager. This can lead to depression. When a teen doesn’t know how to cope with depression, she might turn to alcohol to numb her feelings and to forget issues at home and at school. On the other hand, some teenagers learn how to cope with their feelings in healthy ways. For instance, they might talk to a friend or family when they are sad or angry, play sports to deal with stress or journal about thoughts and feelings.
Lack of Social Support
Teens who have a hard time building and maintaining healthy relationships might turn to alcohol. A teen with absent parents, a lack of friends and trouble meeting new people may feel lonely and become depressed. Many teens who don’t have a social support system develop a low self-esteem. Also, teens who experience abusive romantic relationships or a heartbreak might begin drinking to numb the pain. One drink can turn into multiple drinks and eventual chronic alcohol abuse.
Peer pressure can be a major factor that can influence teen alcohol abuse. Teens who are around other teens who drink are more likely to start drinking. To do otherwise would be to risk standing apart from the crowd, an uncomfortable situation for teens. Also, a teen who attends a couple parties where alcohol is served might become curious and have a couple beers. He might like how it makes him feel and continue drinking on a regular basis, which can lead to alcohol abuse.