Alcoholism in Teenagers and Young Adults
Alcoholism and alcohol abuse is a growing problem in our society. Daily, people are injured and killed in alcohol-related accidents and this has an effect on each and every person as a result of these occurrences.
Whether we are personally involved or have directly suffered from the activities of someone who is under the influence of alcohol, we all suffer from the negative consequences of alcohol. Since we have those who choose to abuse these privileges we need to develop consequences for them.
By learning what leads people to drink alcohol, and how this affects their lives, we can then determine what actions need to be taken to help remove ourselves from our ever-increasing attraction to alcohol.
Because the abuse of alcohol often begins with adolescents and young adults, most research is based around them. At this particular time in life we hope to find out why these young adults choose to drink, and what motivates them to drink.
Michael and Rebecca C. Windle, in their research, were able to show several reasons that provided incentives for adolescents to consume alcohol. Using a written survey, it was determined that the high-school students being studied used alcohol to cope with problems in their lives, including task-oriented, emotion-oriented, and avoidance coping (Windle & Windle, 1996, p. 551).
The only major discrepancies in results between the sexes became obvious when it was shown by Windle and Windle that girls were more likely to use alcohol for avoidance and emotion-oriented coping than were boys, but the boys were more likely to have alcohol problems (Windle & Windle, 1996).
Also found was that adolescents drank less often for social reasons than for the aforementioned coping reasons (Windle & Windle, 1996). However, coping motives were responsible for an increased consumption of alcohol (Windle & Windle, 1996).
A surprising result of this study was that the students drank more frequently as a result of positive daily events than negative daily events (Windle & Windle, 1996). This suggests that while young people do drink because they are unhappy with certain events in their lives, they are more likely to drink because something good has happened to them recently.
Alcoholism is also thought to be passed genetically from parents to their children. By comparing males with a family history of alcoholism to males with a history without alcoholism, we can determine the relationship between genetics, alcoholism, and alcoholic children.
While frequency and quantity of alcoholic consumption of children of alcoholics (COA’s) and non-COA’s were similar, COA’s were more than twice as likely to be diagnostically determined alcoholics than were the non-COA’s (Finnet al., 1997).
This shows that one can drink as much as an alcoholic, but not actually be an alcoholic one’ reasons for alcohol use, and could provide better treatment for alcoholic COA’s than is currently being provided. Somewhat similar to the above research, was that of Chassin, Curran, Hussong and Colder.
These four psychologists were able to show a non-genetic relationship between fathers, their adolescent children, and peers of the adolescents. They found that COA’s substance use growth curve started at a significantly higher level than it did for non-COA’s… (Chassin et al., 1996, p. 74) meaning that not only did the adolescents use alcohol (among other substances), but they used more than did their non-COA peers.
Also, when a COA was combined with drug-using peers, the adolescent was even more likely to have a significantly higher use of alcohol (Chassin et al., 1996). This research also shows that children of alcoholic mothers also showed steeper substance use growth (Chassin et al.,1996, p. 74) than non-COA’s but there generally was not a large effect on the adolescents.
A hypothesis offered by Chassin Curran, Hussong and Colder on reasons for increased alcohol use was the following: In terms of the parenting pathway, both maternal and paternal alcoholism were related to decreased paternal monitoring (although the relation was only marginally significant for fathers’ alcoholism).
In turn, adolescents whose fathers reported lower levels of moitoring were more likely to associate with drug-using peers, and these peer associations predicted increases in substance use over time.
Adolescents whose fathers reported less monitoring of their behavior also had higher initial substance use levels (Chassin et al., 1996, p. 75). From this, we can deduce that parental alcoholism is not the only cause of increased alcohol abuse among adolescents, but rather the additional aspects that come along with having an alcoholic parent.
These aspects may include spending less time with one’s child and external expressions of alcoholism (violence, depression, etc) that may cause a child to deal as infrequently as possible with the alcoholic parent. A great deal of research is going into studying the effects and consequences of alcoholism and alcohol use today.
This is necessary to provide rehabilitation and other help to alcoholics, as from research, an addiction is not necessarily created, but born. We can all benefit, emotionally, financially and otherwise from a better understanding of alcoholism.