In detail

Adolescence and alcohol

Adolescence and alcohol

Always, from the beginning of the story, human society has consumed alcoholic beverages to celebrate or to perform religious ceremonies, medicinal therapy, pleasure or recreation.


  • 1 Historical background of alcohol consumption
  • 2 At what age can you start drinking?
  • 3 Alcohol, the most used drug
  • 4 The risks and reasons of drinking alcohol in adolescence
  • 5 Side effects and risk situations of consumption
  • 6 The need for control

Historical background of alcohol consumption

Likewise, since time immemorial, the harmful effects of an exaggerated consumption of such beverages are known. Already in ancient writings, in Greco-Roman mythological literature, and even in biblical accounts, references to the results of a drunkenness or a bacchanal can be found.

Scientists currently hold mixed opinions about whether or not to moderate alcohol consumption..

From those who totally outlaw it, especially in cases of pregnancy, to those who defend its use as an appropriate collaborator for certain physiological processes.

In fact, some researchers have pointed out that the use of alcoholic substances in small quantities may be a mobilizing agent for high density lipoproteins, which favor the prevention of arteriosclerosis and myocardial infarctions.

At what age can you start drinking?

The most recent debate is whether young people should have access to such drinks only when they are of the appropriate age for it, or if they should be taught appropriate and responsible consumption patterns.

The discussion increases when the arguments collide with legal, moral or religious precepts.

More complication still arises when the issue of How much is suitable for a teenager? And who ensures the controlled intake of a legal drug that affects precisely the control brain centers, in an immature personality that mostly suffers due to lack of control?

If we add to this the negative attitudes of the adult and the social modeling factors that young people receive, we can appreciate that the picture looks complicated before we reach a definitive conclusion.

Alcohol, the most used drug

Almost all world statistics show that Alcohol is the drug most used by the youth population, including children.

In recent years, alcohol use and abuse has increased exponentially, due in large part to the socio-cultural and economic conditions of our countries.

Families have lost the consistency of their internal structure as the need to produce more to live better has become more acute and social norms have become more confusing about what is good and what is bad for individuals. .

An informal study conducted by the author of this article with two collaborators, in the consultation of teenagers from the J.M. Children's Hospital de los Ríos, in the city of Caracas, showed that, of the 134 adolescents surveyed, aged between 13 and 19, 93 acknowledged having occasionally drunk alcoholic beverages, 42 claimed to have experienced medium to high poisoning at least once Intensity, 33 accepted that they consumed alcohol more than twice a week and 8 qualified as everyday drinkers.

The most striking of the results of this survey was that of the 42 who reported alcohol intoxication at least once, 29 were female. The first contact with alcohol was reported more frequently around the age of 11 and the earliest of all claimed to have suffered from a drunkenness induced by an older brother, at the age of 9.

These figures obtained in a rather informative way for our consultation in previous years may have increased or at least remained in more recent times.

The risks and reasons of drinking alcohol in adolescence

Alcohol use and abuse in adolescents is a huge risk factor given the emotional conditions in which they they meet and the climate of insecurity and violence Present in our societies. The tendency towards impulsivity, not to measure the consequences of their actions and to give in to group pressures makes the picture even more worrying.

A teenager can turn to alcohol at times of celebration, but more often it becomes a weapon to challenge meaningful adults, such as parents or teachers, sometimes it is a spillway of tensions and other times in a way to compete with peers or friends. In the latter case it is when the most severe cases of ethyl poisoning usually occur.

The young, sometimes, they bet to see who gets drunk faster and in others to see who holds more drink. In any case, drinking is no longer more pleasure than feeling power over the group or over the partner who challenges it, but basically all that reveals is his emotional discomfort and insecurity.

It is well known by drinkers that nothing gets drunk more and in the worst way than doing it when you are in a bad mood or when it is taken to forget. This alludes to the fact that the effect of alcohol is highly influenced by the internal and external environment in which who drinks. If a young man is not drinking alcohol for the simple fact of sharing a pleasant time with friends, but is in tension or in a mental combat with his anguish, he will surely end up in a phenomenal drunkenness, faced with the dangers that unconsciousness brings and motor clumsiness.

Side effects and risk situations of consumption

Alcohol, as its concentration in the blood increases, depresses the cerebral cortex and affects the nerve centers, leaving emotions almost uncontrolled. Many of the actions of the drunk are guided more by their emotional structures than by their reasoning. In this way, and according to the contents that the bark commonly controls, it will be the behavior of those who have drunk excessively.

In the Teen, and in some adults too, feelings of omnipotence often appear, that the world belongs to them and there is no one to stop them. In this tonic they can accelerate a car to another that challenged it on the road or believe that they can drive their motorcycle like a professional and embark on an adventure without return.

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Other feelings may be aggressive due to the common hypersensitivity in adolescence and lead them to participate in a beating of unpredictable consequences. Sexuality accentuated by the endocrine system in youth is also favored by alcohol intake and under its effects there is little awareness of limits or negative consequences.

Who can resist, at seventeen years of age and under alcoholic influence, a sexual activity, whose offer does not cost much to find at the present time and who cares about the protection of the condom?

The need for control

The risk situations produced by the use and abuse of alcohol in adolescents force us to review our attitudes and the type of models we transmit to them. It is not that we prevent them from drinking at all or that we deprive ourselves of a consumption that, as we said at the beginning is part of almost all our occasions of relaxation or celebration.

What needs to be emphasized is the issue of control. Drinking with measure can be enjoyable and does not have to carry any danger, if consciousness or motor skills are not lost (even though many customary drinkers argue that they drive better when they have had enough). It is important that we teach them to drink without stimulating them at any time to do so.

People should drink only if it provokes them and not feel obligated, as if it were an affront to refuse the offer of a drink. We must review our own alcohol consumption patterns. When do we do it ?, Why ?, How do we react when we have taken ?, What are the most frequent consequences we receive from it? They are watching and learning us and sometimes they are the immediate recipients of our behavior.

Finally, we should be very attentive to our parenting patterns and how we treat them in everyday life. Do we give them enough attention? Do we care about their moods? About their experiences? About their moods? Are we worried about their self-esteem? Are we informed of their friends and the groups they frequent? Do we give them healthy patterns or do we behave "as we please?

A healthy attitude towards our children is the best way to perform prevention and this is always better than late acting., when it may be too late.

César Landaeta H.
Clinical psychologist. Specialized in adolescence and family
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