written by: Finn Orfano
• edited by: Sarah Malburg
• updated: 9/11/2012
Find out why the legal drug alcohol is so dangerous to kids. Read on to learn about teenage alcohol abuse. See why every counselor and teacher should educate themselves on alcohol, the effects of alcohol abuse, and where to turn for help in the realm of drinking.
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Teenage Drinking Statistics
Teenage alcohol abuse is an uncomfortable subject for many.However, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2007: 57.9 million youths ages 12 and older used alcohol at least once in their lifetime.For more information on this study please visit http://www.samhsa.gov/ . These statistics demonstrate that we need to educate ourselves on what drug issues teenagers face.We will start by exploring alcohol.
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Alcohol is a liquid that is created after fermentation of grains such as in beer and liquor, and fruits and vegetables such as in wine. Although it is commonly mistaken as a stimulant, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant.
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Route of Administration
Alcohol is typically drunk although it can be snorted in small forms.Some of the alcohol is broken down in the mouth and stomach, but the majority of alcohol enters the blood from the small intestine.Once alcohol is absorbed it is circulated throughout the body including the brain, where it slows down the Central Nervous System.Alcohol is broken down by the liver and then exits the body.
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It is wise to look at the effects of alcohol use.This information may be helpful in identification of someone who may be using as well as topics to discuss with a medical doctor or counselor.Drinking alcohol may increase the chances of the development of a drug induced mental health disorder and an addiction.These effects are a generalized list and should not be held as an absolute.
Possible Short-Term Effects:
Alcohol’s effects act as any central nervous system (CNS) depressant.Effects can include a sense of euphoria, drowsiness, decreased muscle coordination, and lowered inhibitions.Some of the side effects may include loss of consciousness, nausea, breathing difficulties and death from overdose especially when mixed with other CNS Depressants.
Possible Long-Term Effects:
Diseases of the liver (cirrhosis), heart (heart disease), pancreas (pancreatitis), stomach (gastric ulcers or stomach cancer), esophagus (esophageal cancers)
Massive destruction of brain cells leading to loss of brain functioning
Increased chance of stroke and death
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What to Do
Education regarding alcohol and the effects of alcohol abuse is a proactive way of preventing use.If you suspect teenage alcohol abuse there is help available.There are self-help groups such as Al-Anon and Alateen that are in your communities and online at http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/ .There is also the option of Chemical Dependency Counseling or seeking medical advice from a family practitioner.The National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service is available at http://csat.samhsa.gov/ or at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).The bottom-line is that there is help available.Teenagers should not face these issues alone.
For more information visit: http://www.nida.nih.gov/index.html .
Teachers, Counselors or Parents STOP and read this series on teenagers and drugs commonly abused. Educate yourself on these drugs of abuse, short-term and long-term consequences of use and where to turn for help.