Risk Drinking and Young People

Young people under 25 are often the most affected by high risk drinking. It is during the ages from 15 to 25 that people begin to experiment with alcohol and drugs but it is also the time that recklessness, inexperience and risk taking can lead to harm. Young people are more impulsive than their older counterparts and will engage in unsafe and harmful drinking as a way to fit in with their peers, overcome social anxieties, boost confidence and have fun. Using alcohol in this way can lead to social and behavioral problems, increase the risk of injury or disease or contribute to fatal accidents or suicide.

Inexperience with alcohol can also lead a person to become influenced or coerced into certain activities or behaviors Sexual assault and rape often occurs when someone is affected by alcohol or other drugs and drink spiking is known to occur in nightclubs and bars that young people frequent. Being affected by alcohol can also contribute to an increase in violence, especially for young men who may become aggressive, paranoid or violent when drunk. This can cause physical, personal and financial problems for those involved.

Dangerous Drinking in Young People

Young people tend to drink at harmful levels or in dangerous ways. This may be for a number of reasons including inexperience, peer pressure or social anxieties. Binge drinking is the most common form of dangerous drinking that is seen in young people. Binge drinking is considered a serious public health problem. Drinking to excess in this way can lead to serious health problems, increase in alcohol poisoning, violence, sexual abuse or fatal accidents. Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of a large amount of alcoholic drinks over a short period. Many universities and colleges have a significant problem with young people drinking in this way.

Binge drinking and harmful drinking can lead to long term alcohol related problems for young people. The affect of this type of drinking on the body is incredibly serious and can lead to liver disease, brain damage and other organ damage. Research suggests that young people who binge drink regularly are at a higher risk than others of developing alcoholism. If a person develops alcoholism, the long term personal, financial and social costs can be significant. Binge drinking is also related to other public health problems such as road accidents and suicide.

Young Drivers and Drinking

Young people can begin to drive a vehicle without supervision from the age of 15 all over the world. For many teenagers, this is an exciting rite of passage that gives them more responsibility, freedom and excitement. Sadly, young people are over-represented in fatal and injury vehicle crashes which is due to their lack of experience, risk taking and recklessness plus limited ability and judgment associated to their new skills. When alcohol is added into the mix, this can increase the risk of harm for driver, passenger or other motorists.

Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a deadly issue. This is even more so for young people as they are also in the high risk group for vehicular accidents without being affected by alcohol. When inexperience and alcohol is combined behind the wheel of a car or motorbike, this can be a recipe for disaster. Alcohol affects a persons ability to respond quickly to issues on the road, it makes concentration difficult to maintain and it also increases risk taking behavior which can mean a person will speed, run through traffic lights or make dangerous decisions on the road.

Risk of Suicide and Drinking

Suicide is a serious public health issue for young people all over the world. It is the leading cause of death for people under 25 in many countries around the world including Australia, Britain and Canada and over 1 Million people commit suicide every year. Alcohol contributes to negative social problems which can further increase the risk of suicide. This is because people who use alcohol or drugs are exposed to situations and events that can have significant traumatic effects on a persons mental health. Examples of situations include exposure to violence, prostitution, drug overdoses, assaults, injuries and illnesses.

Hazardous levels of alcohol consumption has been linked to suicide attempts. Alcohol is considered a risk factor for suicide, even in the absence of abuse or dependence. This is because alcohol leads to impulsive, spur-of-the-moment suicides due to its dis-inhibiting properties. Alcohol can turn an ambivalently conceived self-destructive act into a completed act by decreasing inhibitions or increasing risk taking behaviors. Conversely, statistics suggest that up to one-third of individuals who commit suicide meet the criteria or alcohol abuse or dependence. Alcohol dependence can cause many problems for both the person with the addiction and those around them. Family problems, violence, money issues and health problems are just some of the issues that alcoholism can cause. These issues are also significant risk factors for suicide.

Military Service and Risk Drinking

Entering the military is another high risk drinking situation for young people. Many young men and women often enter this cultural group at a relatively young age and face significant personal and emotional changes as a result. To overcome some of the social anxieties and pressures, military personnel often engage in harmful drinking as a way to deal with stress, boredom and loneliness.

Drinking to excess and binge drinking is commonplace in the military and there are many ritualized drinking games and sessions that occur. Individuals who enter this environment are often under pressure to conform to these cultural norms and may engage in dangerous drinking patterns to fit in. Statistics show that young military men between 18 and 25 years of age heavily drink at levels that are greater than their civilian peers.

Alcohol is often used by returned soldiers and those within the service to forget painful memories associated with their service. It is also used to overcome intense anxieties by those who are in active service and may have difficulties in getting motivation to engage in fighting. This presents many serious issues as this impulsivity or decrease of inhibitions can lead to an increase in risk taking. Soldiers who are on active duty may drive vehicles, use weapons recklessly or expose peers to dangerous situations if they are affected by alcohol. This can have disastrous consequences.

Sexual Assault and Alcohol

Sexual assault and abuse commonly happens to people when they are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. This is because a person becomes intoxicated and may pass out, become unconscious, be unable to fight off unwanted sexual advancements or may become so drunk they are not aware of what they are doing. For a young person, this can mean that assaults or rapes are commonplace as they are not used to the toxic effects of alcohol or have the appropriate skills to be aware of what they are getting themselves involved in. Additionally, drink spiking is a serious risk for many people who are drunk and this issue is known to be commonplace in areas where young people drink alcohol.

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