Alcohol abuse among the youths has become a major concern in the recent past in various parts of the world. Alcohol is one of the most abused drugs with more than 60% of homesteads having access to alcohol. While in the past alcohol was not termed as a drug, today it is the leading cause of many deaths in the United States especially among the youths. Alcohol use and abuse by the youths has significant impact on their mental development and other health issues.
Alcohol has been known to compromise the capability of a person to perform some of the normal tasks and also other complex tasks, the ability brain cells to retrieve information and it also slows information recording by the brain cells. Alcohol also has the effect of degrading coordination and slowing down reaction process. Apart from destroying the brain, alcohol abuse leads to other physical health problems as well as social and economic problems (Buddy, para 2).
Currently, most youths drink due to peer influence or just to appear superior to their peers. Drinking has become a major problem in most colleges as more young people engage in alcohol drinking. In America for example, research has established that almost 50% of all students consume alcohol even before they reach their 8th grade (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), para 1). This trend continues as the students continue to 12th grade with the frequency at which alcohol increasing as students’ sets on adolescent and early adulthood.
Some of the negative impacts associated with youth drinking include risky sexual activities, high risks to societies and individuals through road accidents and subsequent deaths, alcohol stimulated or induced brain damage, increased crime such as homicide, assaults and rapes all associated with alcohol, poor academic performance and poor general health of youths who take alcohol among other effects (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), para 1-2). This research paper will thus evaluate the various negative effects that alcohol abuse has on youths’ lives as well as their families and the society as a whole.
Effects of alcohol abuse on youths As mentioned earlier, alcohol abuse is the leading cause of deaths in the United States as well as other parts of the world. Unlike in the past where terminal illnesses were ranked as the first killers in the world, today alcohol has been identified as the major killer around the world a scenario which has been attributed to the exposure of individuals to alcohol. Alcohol is one of the oldest drugs in the world. However, its abuse especially among the youths has increased in the recent past and its effects are felt across all nations (Felsted, pp 16).
One of the major impacts of alcohol abuse on youth’s lives is that it interferes with the normal development process of the brains. Current research has established that brain development continues through the early twenties in a person. However, the pre-frontal cortex which is the part which is responsible for controlling cognitive ability and reasoning develops later in life as it takes a longer time to mature. Drinking in the early ages by a person (before the complete development and maturity of the brain) thus affects a person memory as it damages the region of the pre frontal cortex.
Most of the youths who begin drinking do so at tender ages when their brain cells are still at the development stages. Brain cells develop when individuals are young and excessive drinking interferes with this development making young people more ineffective and unproductive. Research has established that most of the youths start drinking before the age of 16 (Barnes & Brown, pp 45). During this period, it is the time when brain cells fully mature and intoxication with alcohol reduces or interferes with hormone release and functioning.
Excessive use of alcohol reduces the capability of the brain to coordinate and integrate information thus interfering with good decision making process (Barnes & Brown, pp 45). Academic degradation is another effect of alcohol abuse amongst the youths. As mentioned above, alcohol interferes with effective brain development as well as the ability of the brain to integrate and coordinate information to make meaningful translation of assimilated information. The ability of a person to comprehend and perform complex tasks and also to control impulses is controlled by the pre-frontal cortex which is destroyed by early age drinking.
Alcohol abuse also slows down a person’s ability to be creative and make mature and meaningful decisions. Most of the youths who abuse alcohol are in their college levels or junior classes. Due to the negative impact alcohol abuse has on brain development and concentration capability, such youths end up performing poorly in their course work. Poor academic performance has various implications both in the short run and long run life of a youth. Mostly, students who perform poorly in class or course work end up getting poor grades which in turn forces the students to retake a course or a unit.
Students who are forced to retake a course usually find it to be offensive and end up dropping out of school. This has further implications in their later life as it is difficult to find a descent job without good grades. Also, students who perform poorly in their academics are unlikely to find good jobs to support them and their families in the future. They thus end up with blue collar jobs which are not capable of supporting them financially in the long run (Buddy, para 4-6). Poor academic performance by youths and the subsequent loss of welfare has significant impact not only to the youths but also the communities in which they live in.
Youths are the energetic and creative generation which is entitled to take up community development projects and to take care of the younger ones in their families in cases where parents are old or incapacitated. When youths are involved in alcohol abuse, they are unable to bring development in their communities thus affecting the overall development of these areas. Also, the government loses out as there are few youths to employ in more sophisticated careers thus end up importing professionals which can be costly.
Alcohol has not only destroyed the future lives of youths but it has also destroyed the welfare of the families, societies and the overall economic growth of a country (Barnes & Brown, pp 76). Another negative impact of alcohol abuse among the youths is that it leads to loss of jobs thus economic welfare. Alcohol is very addictive and once addicted; a person becomes alcohol dependence and cannot work effectively without it. Once in the blood stream, alcohol changes the normal functioning systems and makes it to become dependent on alcohol for functioning.
Most of the young adults have lost some prestigious jobs due to alcohol addiction and abuse. Once fully addicted, a person cannot perform his or her duties and thus end up being retrenched or laid off from their work places. Loss of economic welfare renders a person incapable of feeding and taking care of his or her family leading to marital problems which may even lead to divorce or separation. Domestic violence associated with alcohol and drug abuse is the main reason given by most people while filing for a divorce. Alcoholics tend to become violent and unruly which have negative impacts on the children development.
Most children who are brought up in families characterized by domestic violence tend to become reserved and perform poorly in class and they may even become violent later in their lives. Young married couples who abuse alcohol are more likely to raise unhealthy families and are even more likely to be violent and disorderly (NIAAA, para 5).
Alcohol abuse among the youths also leads to increased crime and homicide cases. In America for example, over 36% cases of homicide which are reported are related to alcohol intoxication and abuse. 0% of these cases are reported to have been committed by young persons under the age of 25 years whose history verify excessive use of alcohol (Felsted, pp 22). Alcohol has different effects on adults and youths which make these two groups of individuals to behave different while under its effects. In adults, alcohol acts as a sedative which makes the adults to be more controlled even after they are totally drunk. On the contrary, alcohol acts as a stimulator for young people which make them to drink past the necessary or legal limits.
Alcohol brings some kind of energy in young people which stimulates them to do things they would rather not do while sober. This explains why more homicide cases which are reported to be carried out by young people are linked to alcoholism. Other crimes which are commonly committed by young persons while under the influence of alcohol include rape cases, assaults and robberies. In America for example, over 45% of all rape cases are committed by young adults between the ages of 19 and 23 years while 44% of robberies and over 35% of assaults are all alcohol related.
This is still the trend in most of the colleges where over 90% of all college rapes and violence are directly related to alcohol abuse. Most of the young persons who are imprisoned for homicide cases and rape cases attribute their actions to alcohol intoxication (Felsted, pp 25). Alcohol abuse amongst the youths is also an avenue through which most of the young persons are introduced to hard drugs such as cocaine, brown sugar, heroine and bhang. Young people are usually very eager and anxious to try out new things and love being adventurous.
However, under the influence of alcohol, they become more vulnerable to be introduced to other dangerous drugs which are more fatal to their health as well as their lives. Under the influence of alcohol, young people are unable to make rational decisions which make it easy for them to fall prey of hard drugs abuse. Most of the young people who are today addicted to drugs say they were first introduced to such drugs during a drinking spree. Once introduced to such drugs, it becomes difficult to quit and even treat. Other health complications may arise which may not only be costly to treat but may lead to death.
Drug addiction is hard to quit hence it can easily destroy the live of the youth (Barnes & Brown, pp 109). Death is also another negative impact of alcohol on youths today. Alcohol intoxicates the mind making a person to act and behave irrationally. As already mentioned, youths are in their development stages and they are very energetic, curious and explorative. Unlike their counterpart adults, they tend to make decisions at impulse without thinking of the consequences that may accrue. Most of the youths who commit suicide are said to have prior being intoxicated with alcohol and other drugs.
Alcohol is a leading cause of suicide cases which are reported around the world. Apart from suicide, most youths also meet their death while driving under the influence of alcohol. It is normal for the youths to explore and try out different things to satisfy their curiosity. Drinking is one of the means of doing this and at times they end up driving under this condition. This is dangerous as a person is not mentally and physically stable to drive which leads to major road accidents and deaths. Accidents caused by driving under the influence of alcohol are usually fatal and may cause further harm to other motorists and pedestrians as well.
Families end up losing their children in such accidents all due to alcohol abuse. Another influence of alcohol on youths is that it leads to increased sexual activity amongst the youths which exposes them to dangers of contracting sexually transmitted diseases some of which may be terminal such as AIDS. Alcohol intoxicates a person and hinders rational thinking and decision making. Under the influence of alcohol, youths engage in sexual activities without reasoning or even taking precaution. This exposes or makes them vulnerable of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
Currently, most of the persons living with HIV/AIDS virus are young people and they attribute it to alcohol and drug abuse. Such diseases are terminal and before a youth realizes he or she is infected, he can pass it over to others especially when drunk. Once infected with sexually transmitted diseases especially those which are terminal, a person feels worthless and may even become ill to an extent that he or she cannot work normally or may even commit suicide. Youths who are energetic, creative and future leaders and pillars of the world thus end up dying due to alcohol abuse (NIAAA, para 7).
Alcohol also leads to poverty both for the youths and their families in that once a youth becomes infected with sexually transmitted diseases; their families are forced to cater for him which requires finances. Alcohol also has other health issues in the lives of youths. Alcohol is the leading cause of liver cirrhosis and kidney failure problems. Such diseases require a lot of money to treat and usually lead to diversion of money from other family welfare issues. This may easily lead to family poverty thus further complications in family matters.
Alcohol abuse among the youths also leads to stress among the family members as they try to help the addicted person. Apart from economic constraints in the family for medical care, excessive alcohol especially amongst the youths makes them to become unruly and disorderly. They may also become abusive both physically and emotionally and sometimes sexually. This may cause trauma in families and may even attract legal suits against the perpetrator. Most of the youths are incarcerated as a result of alcohol abuse. This is also costly to their families as well as the youths (Felsted, pp 43-46).
Alcohol drinking by the youths also affects their reproductive and maturation systems. During puberty and adolescence, young people experience rapid growth and set the onset of maturity to adulthood. During this growth and development process, different hormones are released to aid in maturity of an individual and development of reproductive system. Alcohol destroys or tampers with the production of growth hormones thus slowing growth and development of productive organs, bones, and muscles. Excessive alcohol intake by youths especially in males can cause impotence or immaturity in development of sexual organs.
Women who take excessive alcohol during their youth may also become infertile or develop other fertility complications in the future. This affects the future reproductive health of an individual as such people may become incapable of procreating. This is also a major reason for family breakups and divorces in the world (Barnes & Brown, pp 116). Another heath effect of alcohol intake among the youths is that it lowers the immune system. Exposure to alcohol especially during the youthful years leads to suppression of the immune system of an individual making such a person vulnerable to illnesses and diseases.
Chronic exposure to alcohol changes the pattern in which hormones are released in the body. Hormones are the ones which stimulate the immune system in the body and once they are altered, the immunity of a person is affected greatly. Low immune system exposes a person to various kinds of health risks and diseases such as liver damage (NIAAA, para 9). Alcohol abuse by youths affects their behavioral development. Usually, youths who are under the influence of alcohol tend to be rowdy and disorganized and pick fights with almost everybody even their parents and teachers.
In colleges, such students’ education is terminated which may mean end of their careers and aspirations. Termination of education also means that they cannot get better paying jobs due to lack of proper school qualifications and certificates. Alcohol makes the youths behave in an immature and irresponsible manner despite where they are. Behaving irresponsibly also has legal implications on youths. Most of the rowdy youths who become a public nuisance are picked up by the authorities and may be taken to rehabilitation centers or juvenile courts.
This delays their education and prolongs their time in school which in some instances can be humiliating especially when a student is schooling with younger students. Such students may end up dropping out of school which further decreases their chances of getting good jobs. Alcohol generally leads to poverty in the long run for the youths (Felsted, pp 67-68). Conclusion Youth drinking has become a major concern in most parts of the world due to the negative impact alcohol has had on the young generation. The youth comprise of over 30% of the total population and they comprise the future generational leaders.
Alcohol has however changed some of the youths and corrupted their energetic and agile minds rendering such youths almost useless to the global economy. Alcohol abuse among the youths is the leading cause for their deaths, poor performance thus poor paying jobs for the youths, diversion of family financial resources to cater for huge medical bills associated with alcohol related ailments, diseases and rehabilitation costs. Effects of alcohol on youth’s awareness campaigns should be planned to ensure that the future generation is protected.