In an article published by HealthDay, it was found that patterns of drinking during youth could act as a predictor for substance abuse later in life. The study, run by the University of Chicago, discovered that those who were classified as “heavy drinkers” had a greater sensitivity to the rewarding and stimulating effects of alcohol, while light drinkers did not show the same reaction. Instead, they reported feeling more lethargic and sedated while drinking.
The essence of the study is that when you begin drinking heavily at a younger age, there is a possibility that the reward part of your brain will adapt to the alcohol, and you can physically respond to it in a different manner than those who drink less would. This sets up a pattern from a very early age, almost the onset of drinking, and can help an addiction develop and spin out of control quickly.
Talking with teens about drinking is never an easy topic. They are bombarded each and every day with the opinions of friends and the media, making it a legitimate fear that they won’t hear what you are saying. Although you may fear your words are not getting through, it is still important to talk to them about drugs and alcohol, and more importantly, the substance abuse it can lead to.
The correlation between age and alcoholism can also be applied to those struggling with tobacco addiction. A fact sheet released in January 2015 from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reveals that experimentation with tobacco products, especially before the age of 18, can result in life-long habits. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reveals that “more than 80 percent of all adult smokers begin smoking before the age of 18.” With peak years for trying tobacco products being as early as ages 10 and 11, it’s crucial to take early preventative action.
One method for prevention is to curb exposure and experimentation early-on, preferably with education. Smoking, like alcohol, is often featured in everyday life and reflected within our culture. Exposure can be hard to control, especially when the celebrities, movies and television depicting these behaviors are easily accessible. Starting a dialogue with young kids and teenagers isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. Conversations about tobacco and alcohol abuse should happen more than just once – touching base lets a teenager know you’re available as a resource if they need your guidance.
Many teens also don’t connect alcoholism or smoking with any serious consequences or real-world effects. Education about the negative social and medical implications could serve as a strong deterrent. It may also give them the strength to say “no” to peer pressure.
Movements have risen to create awareness among adults and younger generations about the hazards of smoking and the big tobacco industry. The research shows there is a clear correlation between a propensity for addiction and the age that one began using drugs and alcohol, so the sooner you have this discussion, the better.
For more information on substance abuse including alcoholism, please visit www.clarityway.com.