underage drinkers

Cost of Underage Drinkers at 19 Million a year

From original post 25 October 2014

There was a time when some considered having their first drink as almost a rite of passage, a sign of growing up. However, it is a different story today, where it seems more and more young people are engaging in underage drinking. The problem is becoming so widespread that it reportedly costs the National Health Service a staggering £19 million each year. It appears youngsters in the UK are drinking at an earlier age, despite the risks to their health and development.

Recent research states around 50% of British children have tasted alcohol at least once by the time they are fourteen years old. At the same time, in excess of 10% of youngsters that age have tried binge drinking, where they may have had up to half a dozen drinks at one time. If that was not enough cause for concern, sources have also stated almost a quarter of UK boys and around 14% of girls have consumed alcohol by age 11. Research suggests a slightly higher percentage of boys consumed alcohol, smoked cigarettes and used drugs more than girls.

Some people do not fully comprehend the dangers of drinking as a youngster. You may be under the mistaken impression it is all fun and games, but, consuming alcohol when underage can be potentially very hazardous, especially as alcohol affects children differently than grown-ups. It is true consuming to excess can bring on health problems at any stage of life, but it can be even more hazardous when drinking as a child.

The fact is, young bodies are still developing, and imbibing alcohol can impact their growth. If you drink a lot when you are a child, you may be suspectable to long term problems in later life. If you drink to excess as a teenager, you may increase the chances of contracting liver and heart disease.  It could impair the brain’s development, establish drinking habits which may stick with you when you get older and have a psychological effect. Those who began drinking at an early age may suffer mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. There have also been instances of people experiencing suicidal thoughts, as well as engaging in dangerous behaviour.

Many attribute the rise in underage drinking to cheaply priced alcohol, which is readily available in supermarkets and other outlets. Unfortunately, it is not too difficult for youngsters to get their hands-on alcohol these days, despite strict licensing laws and the authorities coming down hard on adults purchasing alcohol on youngster’s behalf.

However, despite the best efforts of authority figures, the UK still has a major issue with underage drinking, where experts wish to get to the core of the matter in the attempt to find a solution. Many believe the problems begin at home. Where parents may give alcohol to their children, be it a sip of their glass of wine or beer, they could be inadvertently putting them on the path to alcohol abuse. It may seem like a harmless drink, but this could be the root of youngsters later developing a habit. Studies have shown that children attending Secondary school given alcohol by their parents, in comparison to those who had not, confessed to binge drinking when they grew up, and later exhibited the signs of alcohol addiction. It is tragically ironic that many parents feel that, by allowing their children to try alcohol under their supervision, they may be preparing them for drinking as a grown up.

Some parents feel that, by supplying their children with alcohol instead of them leaving them to buy it on their own, they can control how much they drink and protect them. However, most people feel this is a fallacy, as experts believe there is no evidence such parental supply prevents children from succumbing to alcohol addiction. They may have misguidedly had the best intentions, but if anything, it may only intensify the problem, as if almost giving their children permission to drink, which may be their first step to alcoholism as an adult.

Experts examining the rise of underage drinking in the UK are also looking at the role of social and economic considerations such as environment and upbringing may play in youngsters and teenagers drinking alcohol. Many of whom may have been brought up in a lower or working-class background, or areas of high unemployment, where they may feel as if they have nothing to look forward to. Some people from a deprived area, have seemingly lost all hope and see no future, may drink to try and escape their problems, even at a young age.

This may be especially the case when you have grown up with a parent who may have drunk to excess or taken drugs themselves. A large proportion of children raised under the shadow of alcohol abuse, where it has become a part of day to day life, may grow up to follow suit. They may also give in to peer pressure, where their friends may start drinking, and they join in to avoid ridicule and be part of the crowd.

However, schoolchildren who begin drinking at a regular rate may face more devastating consequences beyond the effect it may be having on their class work and how it may derail their future.

Youngsters who drink too much alcohol may lose their inhibitions, making them at risk of having an accident or ending up in a hospital. They may also behave in an out of character, which could have a profound impact on their lives. It is said that 20% of girls and 10% of boys aged between 14 and 15 years old may be sexually active after drinking alcohol. Furthermore, it is estimated 10% of 15 to 16-year-old boys, and 8% of girls have unprotected sex while imbibing, which can lead to cases of unwanted teenage pregnancy and contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

Young people under the influence may also be more inclined to participate in anti-social or criminal behaviour. They may act aggressively or get into arguments or fights. It is said 40% of school children have been involved in violent incidents after drinking too much.

There is also understandably said to be a connection between children imbibing and getting in trouble with the law. There have been instances of 12-year-olds facing criminal damage charges and over 30% of teenagers who drink every week have carried out violent crimes like assault or robbery, which could see a child end up with a criminal record.

Many people fail to appreciate how underage drinking can shape a person’s life and may even destroy their future. It may have been considered a piece of fun, or a part of growing up, but millions have seen imbibing at a young age affects their health, family life and prospects — quite a price to pay for having a drink before you’re ready.

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