Alcohol is the most widely-abused substance among young people. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism– NIH, in this new millennia, approximately 5,000 people under the age of 21 die annually as a result of drinking. This total includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a result of homicides, 300 from suicide, as well as hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns, and drownings.
Young people take risks. Many experiment with alcohol, more as a rite of passage than as a means to escape. Fortunately, for most, experimentation does not lead to abuse or alcoholism. But for those who continue to use—either to escape or for other reasons—substance abuse is a perilous journey—for many reasons.
The human brain does not fully develop until age 25. Alcohol is one of the few substances which affects every system in the body. A developing brain awash in alcohol is a volatile thing. One example is impulse control. Mature brains have impulse control. Adults reason better than young people because their frontal lobes, which governs emotional control and rational thought, are generally fully developed.
A sober teenager does not always make the right choices; an intoxicated teenager is a loaded weapon. Young people who drink alcoholically risk damaging their frontal lobes permanently. Young people take enormous risks to their health not only by drinking but by how they drink. Binge drinking is a behavior that frequently results in death.
Young people consume less alcohol than adults but consume more when they do drink. Binge drinking is defined as four drinks in a row for females; five in a row for males. Binge drinking on college campuses has claimed numerous lives. Human bodies—particularly young human bodies—cannot metabolize large quantities of alcohol ingested over a short period of time.
Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, causing breathing to slow or stop. A person’s core temperature plunges, as do his or her sugar levels. This leads to seizures. In short, the body is in upheaval; it is drowning in alcohol. According to a 2014 survey by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries.
It is important to know the difference between intoxication and alcohol poisoning. Drinking coffee, drinking water, walking, sleeping—none of these abate the effects of alcohol poisoning. And sleeping can be fatal. An intoxicated individual will respond to stimuli. Even incoherent drunks react to light, touch, sounds and more.
Someone suffering from alcohol poisoning typically cannot be roused from an alcoholic stupor. He or she will not react to painful stimuli, such as pinching. His or her breathing will be erratic. Or breathing may slow to the point of stopping. He or she may be hypothermic—bluish skin; or may even have seizures.
Treating teenage alcoholics
Some young people are full-blown alcoholics by the time they reach their teens. They’re adept at deception. They hide their drinking; they clothe hangovers in colds or flu. They pilfer booze from the liquor cabinet, pimp or steal it. For these individuals, counseling may not be sufficient to treat their addiction.
Residential alcohol treatment offers young alcoholics a safe and stable environment where they receive individual and group therapy, proper nutrition, structure, and support from other teens who are struggling with alcohol. White River Academy is just such a place for young males age 12 to 17. WRA treats young men with behavioral issues, mental health conditions and alcohol and drug addictions. Call 866-300-0616 and speak to our admissions team. They will answer any questions you have.