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Teenagers And Alcoholism

Alcohol abuse among teenagers and young adults continue to be a concern for parents, teachers, and law enforcement officials.

On the surface, the use of alcohol doesn't fit into the same social perception as drug abuse, but in many ways, the misuse and abuse of alcoholic beverages is just as harmful as drug abuse and in some cases, it is even worse.

Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence syndrome, is an addiction that should be recognized as such. Certain medical professionals also consider alcoholism a disease that is curable if the abuser acknowledges that he or she has a drinking problem and takes the initiative to seek treatment to become clean and sober.

Most alcoholics who quit drinking give credit to alcohol rehabilitation clinics and programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). As with drug abuse, alcoholism is not an easy addiction to break. It takes months, sometimes years, of therapy and hard work, both mental and physical, to overcome the hold that alcohol can have on a person.

Also, as with drug addiction, many people make progress for short periods only to relapse by drinking again. It is possible to stop drinking cold turkey and those who do should be commended. A recovering alcoholic is a recovering alcoholic for life. This means that at any time, he or she may decide to take one drink and the cycle starts all over.

Alcoholism is more common than drug addiction because alcoholic beverages are legal in most countries and is readily available for public consumption almost anywhere you go around the world. Beer, ale, wine, liquor, liqueur, and other types of alcoholic beverages can be bought at the neighborhood grocery store, liquor store, or even in pharmacies and drug stores.

There are certain exceptions to who can buy alcoholic beverages and where they can be sold. For instance, selling liquor of any kind to minors is prohibited by law. If caught and convicted, anyone with a liquor license can be heavily fined and their license to sell liquor can be revoked. Also, in the United States, in certain states there are what are called "dry counties" that prohibit the sell of alcohol within their borders, thereby making it a criminal offense for anyone to offer alcoholic beverages for sale.

The drinking of alcoholic beverages has always been socially acceptable, even for those who over indulge. Since it is legal to buy and sell liquor, wine, and beer in most places, it is no wonder that the consumption of alcohol continues to grow. In most cities, large and small, and in rural areas, you can find liquor stores on almost every street corner.

Some people can drink heavily but unless you see them drinking or smell it on them, you may not realize that they have had a drink at all while others can take one sip of wine or beer and you can tell right away that they've been drinking. In other words, alcohol effects different people in different ways.

As with drug abuse, there are certain levels of alcoholism. Some people think that because they don't drink hard liquor, they are not included in the same category as alcoholics. But if you have to have a drink of wine with each meal or if you have to have a beer to wind down after work every day, you may have a drinking problem and not realize it. Try quitting and if you can't, it may be time to recognize and admit to yourself that you have a problem with alcohol.

The type of beverage that is being consumed may also factor into the problems of alcoholism. The alcohol content in different brands and types of wines, beers, and liquors can dictate how quick and how severe alcoholism takes effect on each individual drinker. Age, height, weight, and mental capacity along with other factors can also have a determining effect on how quick a person becomes addicted to alcohol.

(1) The social drinker has a drink when they are in the presence of others and may have a drink at a party, job function, or during a night out with friends or family. They have an occasional drink but don't drink to get intoxicated.

(2) Moderate drinkers have a drink regularly but don't over do it. They know when to say no and when to curtail their alcohol consumption.

(3) Borderline alcoholics like to drink but don't do it all the time. They may have a spouse, a friend, or a particular reason such as an important position at work, a business relationship, or they may have gotten into trouble with the law in the past because of their drinking so they put self imposed limits on themselves.

(4) A true alcoholic, on the other hand, may or may not realize that he or she craves alcohol all the time. They get inebriated for any reason they can use as an excuse. They may even sneak a drink while working, driving, or when or where they find an opportune time.

As an individuals alcohol consumption increases, a pattern usually develops that effects his or her personal life in ways similar to drug abuse. Drinking sometimes causes problems at work, creates friction amongst family members, friends, neighbors, and sometimes with total strangers. It becomes difficult to manage money, to focus on financial obligations, and it may involve run ins with police and other law enforcement personnel.

Alcoholism can cause several medical issues, mental and physical, that can take months and sometimes years of therapy to recover from. Some of the most common diseases associated with heavy drinking include blood clots, anemia, heart attacks, stroke, fatigue, gall stones, nerve damage, seizures, gout, pancreatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, depression, dementia, epilepsy, kidney disease, different types of cancers, and several other mental and physical maladies. Death is also common for many who can't control their drinking habits.

Drinking is heavily discouraged during pregnancy. It is especially harmful to fetuses causing what is known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are defects in an unborn baby's ability to develop mentally and physically. The heart, brain, digestive and neurological systems are especially put at risk.

Teenagers and young adults:

(1) Since alcohol is so readily available in homes, children often start drinking at young ages. By the time they enter high school, many are already on their way to becoming alcoholics and drug abusers.

(2) Teenagers and young adults use words and phrases such as wetted, binge drinking, gattered, beer guzzling, loose, juiced, tippler, drunkard, chugging, soused, buzzed, tossed, and other terms to describe their night of partying and getting drunk.

It is estimated that more than 200 million people around the world are alcoholics and 17 million are in the United States. Annually, over 4 million deaths worldwide is attributed to alcoholism in one form or another.

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