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The consumption of alcohol in Australia is becoming a problem, and because of irresponsible and callous drinking, Australia is in need of a more mature drinking culture.
The main points in this essay discuss the issues concerning irresponsible drinking amongst teens. They include the effects of alcohol on the adolescent brain, accidents involving underage drinkers and teens delaying the consumption of alcohol for as long as possible.
This essay argues that because underage drinking is becoming an epidemic in Australia, we as a country are in need of a more mature drinking culture.
Alcohol plays a major role in Australian Society; it can be a reliever, a supplement to socialise and celebrate, a source of service, or a producer of earnings (Alcohol Working Group, 2008, p2). Alcohol plays a large role in Australia’s culture; because of this the use of alcohol lacks discipline. This paper begins by discussing the effect of alcohol on the adolescent brain. It then talks about accidents that involve young people underage.
Lastly it will cover teens and how they should delay the initiation of alcohol for as long as possible. Alcohol is a strong drug that has a toxic effect on the central nervous system and changes the way people feel and think. Because teenagers have not built up much physical tolerance, they are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. As people grow, different parts of the brain develop at different rates, depending on whether they are male or female. The pre-frontal cortex houses the part of the brain that controls rational thinking.
This does not mature until the age of 19 and will fully mature around the age of 21 in women and 28 in men. Damage to this part of the brain during the time it is being developed causes long term effects including memory, personality and behaviour (Young People and Alcohol, 2007-2011). The short term effects of alcohol include poor concentration, slow reflexes, slow reaction time, reduced co-ordination, slower brain activity and perceptions and sensations become less clear (Administrative Office of the Courts, 2014).
These effects are dangerous for any teen, because while being intoxicated, they are more likely in to indulge in risky behaviours such as swimming, driving, unsafe or unwanted sex and verbal or physical abuse (Drughouse Clearinghouse 2002). Alcohol harms your co-ordination, reflexes and your judgment, it is linked with an estimated 5,000 deaths in people under the age of 21 each year; more than all illegal drugs combined (The Cool Spot, 2014). According to the NIAAA Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15-20.
Fatal crashes involving alcohol are twice as common in young people compared with those 21 years and over (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2014). Alcohol also” accounts for 13 percent of all deaths among 14-17 year old Australians. It has been estimated that one Australia teenager dies and more than 60 are hospitalised each week from alcohol related causes” (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2011). According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2005-06, female and male teenagers aged 15-19 had the highest hospital separation rates for acute intoxication from alcohol among all age groups (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008).
Alcohol consumption amongst teenagers is becoming a concern in Australia. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2007), a National Drug Strategy Household Survey was done. It showed that over 20% of 14-19 year olds consume alcohol on a weekly basis. Among the teenagers, 29% of males aged 12-17 consumed up to seven or more drinks on one occasion; and 32% of females around the same age group consumed five or more drinks on one occasion (Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey, 2005).
Teenage years are a vital part in ones life. Children under the age of 15 are at the greatest risk of harm from drinking. “For young people aged 15- 17, the safest option is to delay the initiation of alcohol for as long as possible. ” (Australian Government-National Health and Medical Research Council, 2014). According to the NHMRC (National Health &Medical Research Coucil), young people who use alcohol before the age of fifteen are more likely to become dependent on alcohol than those who wait until they are twenty one years or older.
(National Health & Medical Research Council, Guideline 3, 2009) It is important that any teen should not try alcohol before 18 because even then, the brain has not been fully developed. In conclusion research has shown that while alcohol does play a major role in Australian culture, it does lack discipline. What young people forget is that alcohol has both long term and short term effects. Both of these can ruin your life. When you get into an accident it causes a lot of damage, not only does it affect you but others around you.
The delay of alcohol would be the safer option not only for yourself but for those around you. So is Australia in need of a more mature drinking culture? Yes.