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Teenage Alcoholism



2.0Literature Review

Accordingto the National Survey on Drug Use and Abuse, 39% of high schoolstudents had taken some form of alcohol in the past one month in 2011(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). In addition, theCenter for Disease Control and Prevention notes that 11% of allalcohol consumed in the US is consumed by teenagers. The bulk of thisalcohol, 90%, is consumed in form of binge drinks. The institutenotes that alcohol is the most widely abused drug among young peoplein the US, far more than tobacco, and illicit drugs. Per drinkingsession, underage drinkers consume more alcohol per person thanadults do, a factor which leads to the death of more than 4,300persons aged between 11 and 20 in the US per year. After drinking, 8%admitted to have driven a vehicle, while 24% stated that theytravelled with a drunk driver.

Anothersurvey, Monitoring the Future Survey of 2012, observed that more than70% of twelfth grader students had tried alcohol, compared to 33% ofeighth graders. 13% of eighth graders and 40% of twelfth graders haddrunk alcohol in the last one month. These trends have continued toraise concerns in the society, with dropping grades, increasing casesof teenage hospitalizations, rise of violence cases among youths andbetween youths and adults (in school and home), as well as morefrequent family breakups being on the rise (Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention, 2014). This paper will deeply explore theissue of teenage alcoholism from various perspectives. It will lookat the role of diminished parental supervision with teenagealcoholism, as well as the role that drinking of alcohol by adults inthe presence of teenagers plays in teenage binge drinking. Inaddition, the role of adult-supervised drinking in encouragingunderage alcoholism and consumption of alcohol in the presence ofkids play in the cases of underage drinking will be explored.

2.1Alcohol, alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse

Inorder to properly explore the issue of underage alcoholism andalcohol abuse, it is important to understand what alcohol is, whatseparates it from other types of intoxicants, and what the limits arefor daily consumption for persons who have attained the age tolegally drink. Alcohol, when taken to describe the beverage, is ageneral terms for any of the various types of drinks which hasethanol as an intoxicating agent (Ritchter, Richter, 2001). Othervariants of intoxicants in the alcohol group, such as methanol, alsobear the same effect as alcohol, but with other secondary effectssuch as adverse health effects, blindness and even death. Alcoholwhen taken as a beverage is often divided into three categories,including beers, spirits also called liquor or distilled alcohol),and wines (Kroll &amp Taylor, 2003).

Beersare the base alcohols typically made through fermentation of sugarsfound within starchy foods usually in malted cereals such as barleyand wheat. The US is the largest importer of beers, importing as muchas 33% of all traded beer globally. The alcohol content in analcoholic beverage is normally just the percentage of ethanol in thevolume. Beers have alcohol content of between 4% and 6% alcohol byvolume (abv), though there are instances where the alcohol contenthas been as high as 20%-40% abv (Centers for Disease Control andPrevention, 2014).

Liquor,distilled alcohol or spirits usually have alcohol content between20%-40%. They therefore typically have about seven times the activecontent of ethanol in ordinary beer. They are obtained throughdistillation of fermented drinks from grains, fruits or vegetables.Whiskey, vodka, gin, baiju, tequila, and brandy are typical examplesof spirits. Distillation helps in concentrating the alcohol in adrink through eliminating the other portions contained therein. Hardliquor is an alternative name used to refer to alcohol which has beendistilled (Ritchter, Richter, 2001). Repeated distillation is done toproduce ultra pure alcohols, also called rectified spirits. Rectified alcohols may contain as much as 95% pure alcohol by abv,and are normally taken mixed with other, softer drinks. It may alsobe used in its pure form for medicinal purposes (Wargo,2007).


Accordingto the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM),teenage or underage alcohol abusers is diagnosed as showing arecurrent use within 12 months in such a manner as to affect theirphysical or psychological functioning. Alcohol abuse is a prevalentissue within the society’s structure. Large scale usage of alcoholamong individuals can easily gravitate to a community problemaffecting the normative course of a community’s development, aswell as gravitating into a national and global concern (Wargo,2007). As with adults, alcohol use can adversely affect adolescents’behavior. It impairs their physical abilities to sustain normalbehavior. An alcohol induced physical unfitness maybe characterizedby inability to retain an upright standing or walking gait, inabilityto walk in a stable manner, inability to focus when looking at anobject, weakness of joints and muscles, slowed functionality withrespect to movement of limbs, among other physical traits (Johnstonet.al 2011). It also has an effect on one’s psychological wellbeing, including slowed thought capability, inability to thinkcritically or logically, degeneration of normal personality behaviorsuch as avoiding risky or potentially risky behavior, incoherent ofspoken or thought words, poor construction of speech elements amongothers. Behaviorally, alcohol abuse maybe associated with riotousbehavior, tendency to take unnecessary risks including unwanted orunprotected sex, mob activities, tendency to engage in brutalactivities including picking fights and enjoying violent activities,destruction of own or others’ property, use of bad or uncivilizedlanguage towards others, excessive disorder including being lousy,increased disorganized or unwanted physical activity among otherbehavior instances (Eaton et.al 2012). It also leads to an increasein cases of alcohol related vehicle accidents, burns, falls andrelated injuries (Kroll &amp Taylor, 2003).

Inextreme cases, excessive alcohol abuse can be manifest throughphysical signs including sleeplessness, fatigue, glazed anddiscolored eyes, extensive health complications, experiencingblack-outs, disturbing coughs among others (Johnston et.al 2011).Psychologically, it is manifest through rapid mood swings,irritability, violence, low self esteem, poor judgment, depressivetendencies, suicide inclination, general apathy and familydisagreements. In academic terms, alcoholism typically leads tonegativity towards school, truancy, reduced academic performance,tardiness and repeated discipline issues (Kroll &amp Taylor, 2003).

2.2Classification of Alcohol Abuse

Whileexcessive use of alcohol is usually the pre-cursor to alcoholism, thewider field of alcohol misuse is actually fragmented into variousalcohol abuse patterns. These patterns include binge drinking,constant opportunistic drinking, nightly drinking, and routine heavydrinking.


Bingedrinking is perhaps the most prominent alcohol abuse patterninvolving children and teenagers. Binge drinking is characterized byperiods on alcohol indulgence followed by intermittent periods ofavoidance. During the drinking phase, the teenagers will usuallydrink huge volumes of alcohol without control, normally well beyondthe limits for psychological control of one’s person, and sometimesto the extent of total black-out. The drinking usually involvesmultiple types of liquor or beer, and may last up to days at a time(Stampferet.al 2005).Though adults get into binge drinking alone and often show remorsesoon after, youngsters are more likely to indulge in binge drinkingin groups, whereupon they also get involved in other serious mishapssuch as rioting, shouting, uncontrolled behavior, property breakageand destruction, risky endeavors and other similar activities.Youngsters will usually escape from home to engage in binge drinkingin cases where such activities may bring them to conflict withparents (ThePartnership at Drugfree.org, 2014).One possible reason why youngsters are more likely to indulge inbinge drinking is because they may not always have time or freedom todrink, as most of them are still under care of parents. They thusfeel the need to make the best out of available time. In addition,binge drinking is usually in rhythm with the tendency to becomeunruly, a quality usually synonymous with mob reasoning (Stampferet.al 2005).

Foradults and teenagers trying to quit alcoholism, binge drinkingusually resonates between drinking sprees and withdrawal periods. Theduration of time between drinking sprees, however, progressivelyreduce with time until the individual slips into alcohol dependence,ultimately becoming completely unproductive in whichever capacitythey are normally positioned, and if unchecked, binge drinking leadsto addiction (Baumgartner, 2011).

2.2.2Addiction or Constant Drinking (Opportunistic Drinking)

Thistype of drinking usually involves a drinking pattern which isconstant, uncontrolled and destructive. It usually results from anyof the other, less severe disorders. Opportunistic drinking happensdaily if possible, and involves consumption of as much alcohol as ispossible within financial or other restrictions. This type ofdrinking is usually interruptive with work attendance and often isassociated with uncontrolled absenteeism, reduced productivity atwork, reduced concentration, poor workplace relations withsupervisors, co-workers and clients, low self esteem and, as itprogresses, suicidal tendencies (Baumgartner, 2011). Opportunisticdrinking is less popular with teenagers than with adults owing to itsrequirement of regular alcohol uptake, usually without activecontrol, but it is nonetheless observed among teenagers. Withteenagers, it usually results in reduced concentration in school forthose schooling, absenteeism from class, poor response in terms ofclass work and academic projects, declining health ( both mentally,socially, and physically), and poor social interactions with peers.It often leads to huge and enduring conflicts with parents orguardians, and maybe a major course of runaways by teenagers fromhomes (Miller 2007).

2.2.3Routine Heavy Drinking

Thistype of drinking is confined to a periodic routine in terms ofdrinking days or periods in a week, month or other duration. This isthe most prevalent drinking pattern for most adults in the US andmost other countries. Usually, adults who have not crossed thethreshold into alcohol dependence or addiction exhibit a predictabledrinking pattern, drinking in the weekends or on specific weekdays.The drinking days almost always are immediately followed by off-daysor weekends (Mukamal, Conigrave &amp Mittleman, 2003).

Forthe teenage drinkers, this pattern of drinking is uncommon, but notentirely absent, especially for those without proper parentalsupervision or those living on their own, such as due to college orwork arrangements necessitating them to be away from parental homes.This drinking pattern usually involves heavy drinking, sometimes to atotal blackout. Where teenagers indulge in routine heavy drinking, itmay normally prevent them from normative functioning in the followingdays. It is normally characterized by absenteeism from school orother duties, poor concentration in class or work, reducedproductivity, a heightened possibility of low hygiene, and sometimesfatigue and tiredness (Mukamal, Conigrave &amp Mittleman, 2003).

Physicallyit maybe expressed through low energy output, sluggishness in walkingand performing other tasks, sore eyes sometimes with reddenedcoloration among other traits. Psychologically it may be accompaniedwith periods of reduced self esteem, regret and feelings or reducedself worth, among other personality issues. As with any otherdrinking pattern involving teens, routine heavy drinking may involvemultiple persons in a group drinking, but this habit may not be asprevalent in routine drinking as with other drinking types (Stampferet.al 2005).

Dueto the fact that, routine heavy drinking requires constant source ofmoney for youngsters, it may also involve periodic conflicts betweenteens and parents over missing money in the house as the teenagers’source money to facilitate drinking. It is of course expected thatthe majority of youth who involve in heavy periodic drinking have nojobs and hence have no regular income. This places them in acompromising situation in which they must have money for drinking andhave no income to support it. Normally this problem is settled inthree ways (Baumgartner, 2011). The first way involves relying onfriends who have money to support them, often with the expectationthat they will return the favor at a later date. This option isusually possible if the drinking is done in a group, where the groupis always intact during drinking events. The other option may involvehaving the teenager borrow money for drinking, thereby getting intodebts. This pattern is more prevalent with risk taking teenagers,ones who also show a predisposition for other financial risk takingsuch as engagement in illegal, small gambling activities (van denEijnden 2011). Such activities are already prevalent in schools andcolleges, and involve non-drinkers to a significant extent. Theborrowed trend may often lead to subsequent problems with peers,authorities and parents over unsettled debts. The last option forteenagers without periodic income is to engage in stealingactivities. Usually, this is manifest through unauthorizedacquisition of small amounts of cash from homes as well as lies toldto acquire money on the pretext of genuine expenses. This option toomay usually lead to conflicts in the home with parents or guardianswhen such lies are unearthed or money discovered to be missing.Whatever the type of drinking that teens may engage in, the result isalways undesirable in terms of academics and social issues, as wellas on personal development (Baumgartner, 2011). The following sectionwill explore the issue of parent’s contribution to teenagealcoholism.

2.3Parents and Underage Alcoholism

Thecontribution of parents towards teenage alcoholism is an issue thathas continued to be studied in the last few decades (Hingson, Heeren&ampWinter, 2006). While it is agreed that the state of parenthoodwith respect to alcohol use has a connection with the exposure theirchildren have to drinking, the exact nature and extent of thisinfluence is still under study (Kuhn, 2013). Typically, some of thereal scenarios believed to have an impact on teenage alcoholisminvolve the way parents take alcohol in and out of home, whatfunctions the family holds in which the adults- or adults andteenagers- take alcoholic drinks, how the family treats youngsterswhen they hold or attend functions in which alcohol maybe present,and how alcohol influences the way parent interact with each other.These interactions may necessarily take into considerations whetherparents engage in violence due to alcohol, or if intake of alcoholchanges the outcome of regular family discussions involvingparent-parent or parent-children (Baumgartner, 2011).

2.4Effect of Parental Alcohol intake in Presence of Children on UnderageDrinking Patterns

Considerableresearch has been conducted in the fields of teenage alcoholism andthe role that parents’ or guardians’ alcohol consumption in theirpresence plays. Multiple researchers have stated that underagepersons get affected by their parents’ consumption of alcohol intheir presence, there are many maladaptive effects includingbehavioral, psychological, cognitive, social and emotional (West etal, 1987). Reports by the underage victims of parental alcoholismreported being affected as manifest through feelings of neglect,social exclusion, feelings of loneliness, low self-esteem, and insome circumstances, they have been forced to take responsibility oftheir homes where parents are unable to do so (McMorris et al 2011). However, the nature of influence parental alcoholism has on teenagealcoholism is not heterogeneous, but differs significantly fromfamily to family. The reason for this is that there are otherpre-disposing factors to the teen alcoholism problem. Being born ofalcoholic mothers, for instance, has an effect on the possibility ofoffspring alcoholism (O’Leary, 2002). Other reasons include thenumber of family members in the resident family, as this affects theamount of time the child needs to spend with the intoxicated parents.

Itis assumed that children who have alternatives may spend time withother family members and do not, therefore, have to spend much timewith the parents. This limits the exposure they have to alcoholismand this may reduce the effect that associating with alcoholicparents may have on them and their tendency to turn to alcohol. Inaddition, the psychological changes in the functioning of parents asa result of alcohol may also affect the way underage persons undertheir care respond to parental alcoholism. The way children orteenagers may respond when parents become psychologically unstabledue to alcohol uptake is different than the way they will react whenparents, after taking the exact same amount of alcohol in the exactsame circumstances , remain sober and psychologically in control(Nordberg,Rydelius &amp Zetterstrom, 1993).One underlying influence that was universally observed is thatchildren whose parents used alcohol were more likely to useit(O’Leary, 2002).

Researchconducted by the Center for Parenting and Research has establishedthat parents use of alcohol has cumulative effects on children,whereby the more the exposure the more the likelihood for teenagealcoholism. Teenagers tend to view the adults in their lives as rolemodels, and will therefore tend to pick up the behavior adopted byadults in the way they do their things. In addition, there is anincreased case of disruptive behavior in children whose parents usealcohol, especially in cases where this use is within the presence ofthe young people. Mental problems are also prevalent, as ishyperactivity, in male children of parents who are into alcoholintake. However, it was not apparent whether paternal alcoholism hasa different influence on teens than has paternal influence. Childrenwith mothers who take excessive alcohol, however, were observed asbeing more likely to be exposed to multiple adverse effects thatthose of alcohol taking fathers, the result of which was that theytended to feel desperate more easily than those whose male childrentake alcohol (McMorris et al 2011).

Itwas established that antisocial personality disorders and mooddisorders observed in children were more likely to develop whereparents and other family members were observed to take alcohol, andspecifically when this alcoholism was in the presence of teenagers,and the effect was exacerbated when multiple family members tookalcohol. In addition, families that have a higher tendency of alcoholintake exhibited higher rates of unresolved conflicts, includingcases of physical aggression, reduced instances of bonding anddeclining verbal and physical expression of one’s feelings. Thesecombined factors have the effect of reducing the teenagers’ senseof security and erodes their hope for a stable future. This in turnmay lead them to seek solace and comfort within external sources, inwhich the chances of introduction to alcohol are higher (O’Leary,2002). The other trait is with regard to how parents who take alcoholperceive their children and the effects this has on teenagedevelopment. It was established that parents who take alcohol weremore likely to hold unrealistic views on their children. Suchparents, for instance, were more likely to become eitherauthoritarian or excessively lenient with their children, eitherdenying them room for healthy development and therefore exposing themto extreme views at a tender age, or allowing them excessiveinteraction with their environment without checks and balances,thereby exposing them to peer influence and possibly, alcoholism(McGue, 1997).

Itis important to note that parents taking alcohol in the presence ofchildren has different contributory factors to teenage alcoholismthan taking alcohol with their teenage or else underage children, inwhich case the factors are directly induced into the minds of theteenagers or otherwise underage children. McGue (1997) asserts that, while it is not always true that children of parents who take alcoholin the presence of teenagers will have alcohol-intake disorders,these youngsters have a four to nine times higher possibility ofalcohol intake disorder compared to children of parents who do nottake alcohol or do not do so in the presence of children. Alcoholintake of parents does have multiple effects on children and teens,and it is not just the heightened possibility of teenage alcoholdisorder (Chassin et al, 1996). Hussong et.al (2005) states that,while the studies have typically involved grown-ups who look afterthe children, sample research in which self-reporting by children ontheir perceptions of parental alcohol abuse in their presence and theimmediate and long terms this might have on them is not uncommon. Inaddition numerous research instances involving personal interviewswith children experts, adults having custody of children who mighthave been subjected to adult alcohol intake effects, as well asparents who take alcohol in the presence of teenagers or youngerchildren themselves have been interviewed. These broad and specificcategories of alcohol misuse effects on children have made itpossible to have a vast research support for the issue.

Criticismregarding the nature of research done to quantify the exact effectsof parental alcohol intake I presence of their underage children onthe possibility of alcohol intake syndrome in the teens has also beenwidespread (Hussong et.al, 2005). Key contention in this criticism isthat involvement of adults who are into alcohol abuse in presence ofchildren in research or interviews may not yield the desired unbiasedresults because these individuals, who are aware that the effects oftheir alcoholism maybe negative with respect to their children, maybeunwilling to state or admit any suggested statements to this effect,thereby making the real effect of their actions seem less severe(Grekin, Brennan &amp Hammen, 2005).

Anotherwidespread criticism with these researches was with elevated researchon the effects on the boy child by paternal alcoholism, while thecorresponding research on maternal alcohol intake and its effects ongirls were diminished (Christoffersen and Soorhill, 2003). The otherproblem highlighted with alcoholism research is that alcoholism, asthe source of any problem, seldom comes independently. In actuallife, people who are into alcoholism will almost always have othercontributory issues, some associated with alcohol intake and othersnot at all related to alcohol, but all of which may affect theoutcome of a study. It is worth noting, however, a significant numberof other individual, economic and/ or social problems may drive oneinto alcoholism, and will still be the most prevalent outcomes of theindividual’s indulgence in alcohol (U.S. Department of Health andHuman Services, 2007). The way to make this distinction regarding ifa variable is a source or outcome of alcoholism is not a clear one,and the assumptions thus made may have a biased outcome in theresearch. For instance, studying poverty as the end result ofparental alcoholism assumes that but for excessive alcohol intakethe adult might have been able to manage their poverty status. Infact, some researches may classify poverty as an outcome ofalcoholism, while indeed it was the poverty, or inability to meetbasic needs at home that might have led the parents to indulge inalcohol. Other issues that may double as both causes and effectsinclude absence of clear communication between parents and thephysical conflicts this occasionally may lead to severe (Grekin,Brennan &amp Hammen, 2005).

Bythe year 2001, there were more than 9 million children in the USalone living in households where one or more adults (parent or otherresident adult) was classified as having alcohol misuse disorder.Similar figures already existed for UK (at 4-6 million children) andAustralia (Gorin, 2004). With supporting evidence present to suggestthat this kind of association was bound to have effects on thechildren, the important research point is to attempt to quantize theeffect is has specifically on teenagers’ tendency to indulge inalcohol (Christoffersen and Soorhill, 2003).

Whethera teenager living with a parent or other guardian who takes alcoholin their presence is likely to indulge in alcohol is also determinedby other factors. Grekin, Brennan &amp Hammen (2005) stated that,several other factors may also encourage the alcoholism effects onteenagers by alcoholic parents. These factors include the number ofadults in the household or environment who take alcohol in thechild’s presence or who exhibits the effects of a person who hasbeen taking alcohol in their presence, where the child’s likelihoodof using alcohol in a setting in which multiple family members takealcohol is higher than if only one person was using alcohol. Thisrealization is perhaps guided by the likelihood of the childperceiving it as normal for people to use alcohol. This makes itnatural for children and teenagers to use alcohol in order toassociate with their parents or guardians (Gorin, 2004). The scenarioin which only one parent or other guardian is using alcohol is lessinfluential in teenage alcoholism than the previous case. This maybeexplained as being due to the fact that the child seems to have manychoices when deciding who their role model is: whether the singleparent with alcoholism tendency or the many other adults in his/herenvironment who do not take alcohol. While this decision may also beinfluenced by the authority the parent or guardian commands withrespect to the teenager, it is proportionately likely thatchildren’s’ or teenagers’ probability of alcohol use will behigher in families with multiple members displayed alcohol disordersthan in those families with only one alcohol user (Grekin, Brennan &ampHammen, 2005).

Multipleresearchers also tend to agree that the behavioral traits observed inchildren arising from parental alcoholism are localized depending onthe gender of the child. Nordberg, Saucier&amp Phil, 1998, observedthat the effects on boys were more aggressive and expressional.Before turning to alcohol, boys tended to exhibit disruptivebehavior, as well as hyperactivity. Rare but significant cases ofmental problems were also observed more frequently in boys thangirls. Girls on the other hand were more likely to exhibit moreinternalized behavioral disorders, including poor self-concept,depressive tendencies, poor feed patterns and anxiety. Hussong et.al(2005) observed that, girls from alcohol taking parents tended toshow poor social competence in childhood events. The research showedthat progression to alcohol taking by teenagers as a result of parentalcoholism was not always directly consequential, but was often alast result starting with mild to severe behavioral affect patterns.

Agenetic perspective has been studied in determining the correlationbetween parent alcohol intake and children alcohol intake. Johnson,2001, states that while it is not always certain that alcoholicparents will have alcoholic children, the odds are 4 to 9 timeshigher than otherwise that children will emulate their parents inalcohol abuse. In addition, McGue (1997) states that, there exists agenetic correlation between parents and offspring tendencies to usealcohol. Richter, 2001, however, argues that while there is a geneticcorrelation between alcoholism and generations, it is ultimately theenvironment which plays the larger role in bringing about alcoholismtraits between successive generations. Studies to find the linkbetween genetic orientation and alcoholism have been extensivelystudied using twins and adoption. It has been found that individualsbrought up in entirely environments still exhibited similaralcoholism traits, thereby indicating the possibility of a linkbetween genetic constitution and alcohol appetite. What the aboverealization implies for this study is that the effect of parentalalcohol intake in presence of their children can only further fuel apredisposition that already existed of teenagers with drinkingparents to indulge in drinking. It would therefore seem that ateenager taking after their parents in alcoholism is the normativescenario, while abstinence from taking alcohol would be an activechoice requiring discipline.

Insummary, the contribution to teenage alcoholism of parents who takealcohol in the presence of children is not an immediate scenario, butone that progresses through several phases. There are manycontributory factors that arise in the interaction between parentsand teens in the drinking phase that expose teens to secondaryproblems. Firstly, the occurrence that adults take alcohol in thepresence of teens sets an example to them, and therefore the averageteenager will have expectations that at some point, they should alsotake alcohol in order to look like their parents or guardian. Thepoint at which the teenager decides to take alcohol is dependent onother factors, but he/she is already aware that they should takealcohol because their parents do so. The next factor that contributesto alcohol intake by teens under influence of parents is thebreakdown of communication between parents and their children.Research indicates that frequent alcohol intake by parents in thepresence of children leads to a breakdown of communication andsupervision on teenagers, as usually the parents are too intoxicatedto still maintain supervisory roles on children.

Thisleads to teens taking control of their own circumstances withoutsupervision of a parent or guardian, a factor which exposes them tomany issues, including the possibility of induction into alcohol.With the breakdown of communication between parents and teenagerscomes also the possibility of loss of moral authority by parents overtheir children. This possible moral degeneration is usually precededby lack of self control by parents when taking beer and otherintoxicants in presence of their children (Bonnie and O’Connell,2004). Typically, parents are likely to talk loosely, insult othersincluding the youngsters, and exhibit a general degeneration of moralvalues during the drinking sessions. The level of disintegration ofmorality depends on personality, but will generally worsen with thevolume taken as well as duration of exposure to drinking. Whenparents can no longer set a moral example to their children due totheir wanton disregard of moral values, the youngsters perceive thatthey are free to engage in pleasurable activities of their own,seeing that there is no one morally authorized to preside over them(Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Centerfor Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, 2012). Efforts tocontrol them by parents are likely to fail due to the combinedeffects of poor perception of parental advice by teens, as well asowing to the fact that the parents themselves will usually be unableto offer guidance and disciplinary directions to the children in thecircumstances.

2.5Influence of Binge Drinking on

Bingedrinking involves a periodic consumption of alcohol with the intentto lose oneself, either partly or wholly, in the effects of alcohol.Psychology today observes that one in five high school girls arebinge drinkers, and the figure for boys is even higher. Bingedrinking means intake of 5 bottles or more for men and 4 or more forgirls. The volumetric measure of one drink is nominally one Pint, orroughly half a liter within a short time. According to PsychologyToday, the trend for binge drinking for boys for the last ten yearshas declined, while that for girls has remained constant. Below is astatistical table for teenage binge drinking(Lohmann,2013).


Percentage binge drinkers









(Centersfor Disease Control and Prevention, 2014)

Thefigures above indicate that nearly half of all youngsters have atleast on one occasion taken liquor to uncontrolled extents. This isnot withstanding that the official binge levels of 5 pints for menand 4 for women may be way much higher for younger drinkers, on whoma lesser volume of ingested alcohol might have the same effect as theofficial binge levels. Children in grade nine are barely teenagers,but almost half have already been involved in high volume alcoholintake. By 12thgrade, more than 60% of scholars have already been in a bingedrinking part (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014).

Arguably,these teens take alcohol in conditions that are not hidden from theirparents because even where the alcohol is consumed away from home,the extended effects of an after-binge syndrome lasts at least for 24hours, albeit more for younger drinkers, and it can therefore besafely assumed that parents learn of these binge parties as early aswhen teens are in 9thgrade. The fact that statistics for binge drinking between 9thand 12thgrade show a rising percentage, and this implies that either theparents do not attempt to control teenage alcohol drinking, or thatany such attempts are not successful. The section below explored justwhy parental guidance regarding teenage binge drinking does notsucceed (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014).

TheCDC report also states that 90% of all beer consumed by teenagers isconsumed in binge parties, and that teenagers and underage drinkersare consuming more than 10% of all liquor in the US. This is a veryhigh level intake figure considering that US consumes about 33% ofall beer in the globe. Thus, teenagers in the US maybe among thoseexposed to alcohol the most of all countries. In the research, CDCsought to obtain the most common justifications from teenagers as towhy they indulge in binge drinking, the following were the mostcommon answers they gave.

  • Everyone else does it

  • I was bored

  • I act different when am drunk

  • I wanted to explore how it makes one feel

  • My parents do it so it is okay

  • It helps me escape reality

Analysisof the six most common excuses above reveals certain aspects of thesociety and the family that are exposing teenagers to alcohol intakeand more so in unregulated amounts. Firstly, there is a generalacceptance of alcohol intake as an integral part of the Americanculture. This is evident in the first statement “everyone else doesit”. Whether everyone here means the peers in the respondent’slife or the larger population does not change the facts (Centers forDisease Control and Prevention, 2014). If it means everyone in thesociety, it inevitably places the parents in the center of bingedrinking because their children take it from them. If it meanspeers, then the parents must be to blame over lack of parentalcontrol over teenage drinking, especially where it involves bingedrinking the effects of which are unconcealable for many hours. Thenext three responses tend to focus more on peer influence than onparent’s omissions or commissions on their role regarding teenagealcoholism. In particular, the statements “I was bored”, “Iwanted to explore how it feels”, and “ I act different whendrunk” all shows how strong peer pressure is on teenagers. Indirectly, it may point partly to parental negligence on children,since there already exists a correlation between parents negligenceon teenage care and teenagers involvement in activities driven bypeer pressure (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014).

Thenext reason given, “my parents do it so it is okay”, provides,perhaps, the most direct link between parent’s intake of alcoholand teenage alcoholism. The fact that children see their parentsengaging in binge drinking is a very strong motivation for them toengage in binge drinking. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) reporton binge drinking associates 17% of adult Americans with bingedrinking. The report also stated that adult binge drinkers do so onaverage 4 times every month, and consume on average 8 drinks on thehigher side. The onslaught on binge drinking causes above 60,000deaths annually in the US, and has huge implications for the economy.In 2006, for instance, the trend cost the US economy more than $200billion (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). Accordingto CDC, the age group with the largest number of binge drinkers is18-34 years, implying that teenagers are already a strong contributorof nationwide binge drinking (due to inclusion of age 18 and 19 inthis group). In addition, the income of this group was higher than$75,000, yet the income group that has record of most binge drinkshas income in the range of less than $25,000. More than half of allalcohol taken by adults is during binge drinking, as compared to 90%of that taken by youngsters. Binge drinking also led to additionalexpenses for the adult and young drinkers. The study estimated thatbinge drinking cost an additional $1.90 per bottle, includinghealthcare costs, productivity loses and crime incidences.Cumulatively, adult binge drinking maybe the foremost cause ofteenage binge drinking, a trend which has continued to rise in the US(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014).

Thesixth most common reason why teens admitted to binge drinking wasthat it helps them escape reality. This statement implies that theaverage American teens are having issues they would rather forgetabout. Yet, most teens today are still in school and under the careof a family, thus not needed to meet their upkeep expenses.Agreeably, the most common concerns for teenagers is the resolutionof their role in the society, lack of role models, and conflicts withparents and school administration (Office of Juvenile Justice andDelinquency Prevention, 2005). Research however indicates thatparental influence in a teenager’s critical development phasesplays an important role in helping them find their proper identities,as well as establish lifelong goals that govern their behavioraltrends (Alison, 2000). The fact that many teenagers are seekingescape from their situation implies that their parents may havefailed to guide them through adolescent development phases andtherefore exposed them to any available external sources of roleformation (Kroll &amp Taylor, 2003). The role of parents in teenagealcoholism as a result of binge drinking therefore has a direct orobservational as well as an indirect aspect. In reality, it is notjust the parents’ contribution that encourages teenage bingedrinking, but ultimately the cultural orientation of the greaterAmerican public which permits and encourages binge drinking that isinfluencing the youngsters (Alison, 2000).

2.6Adult Supervised Drinking and it’s Influence on

Thissection will explore adult supervised drinking. This typicallyhappens when parents and their children take part in a drinking eventtogether, usually with parent supervision on the amount, type andmanner of drinking that the youngsters can engage in. The Universityof Washington’s Social Development Research Group lead researchersstated in a research carried out in 2011 that parents start off in adilemma involving whether or not to allow their children to drinkunder their supervision (McElroy, 2011).The underlying rationale,the research observed, was that denying teenagers the opportunity todrink at all only serves to draw them to unsupervised drinking,usually in group settings, which usually results in uncontrolledintoxication and raises the teenagers’ vulnerability to risk takingactions. Parents will therefore typically arrange to have socialdrinking events at home parties or other similar places with theirteenage children present, and will assume supervisory role upon theirchildren’s drinking to ensure that they consume only the rightalcohol types and to within the correct limits. The correct limit ofdrinks allowed on youth in such events is not a rigid volume, andwill vary from parent to parent, in a manner not controlled by anyscientific estimates. Parents are of the idea that this will help theteens to learn responsible drinking, and that it is the rules thatshould keep them from drinking, but an active decision not to drinkbased on an understanding of the effects of uncontrolled drinking,and its implication on the normal development of a human being. While this school of thought has a rational basis, it is also truethat the opposite maybe the case (McElroy, 2011).

Thestudy, published in the Journal of Studies of Alcohol and Drugs,2011, asserts that any form of controlled drinking by teens underadult supervision is likely to do more harm than good. In the 2011research by the Social Development Research Group of the Universityof Washington, 1900 students in seventh grade were incorporated. Theproject was a joint initiative conducted by the International YouthDevelopment Study involving children from US and Australia. Theinvestigators made enquiries from the youths about their experienceswith alcohol usage, their problems in relation to alcoholconsumption, and how often they had consumed alcohol with an adultpresent (McElroy, 2011). The table below is a summary of thefindings.

% who drank with adult supervision

% who drank without adult supervision

% who drank with adult supervision

% who drank without adult supervision

Population area

Victoria- Australia

Washington -US

7th grade





9th Grade






Thetable is a manifestation of the strong contribution of parents inearly drinking habits by youngsters. It is evident, however, thatthere exists differences culturally in the factors that lead toteenage drinking. From the table, for instance, Australian peers aremore likely (by a factor of almost 2) to be induced into drinking byparents, with 67% of 8thgraders already having been in a supervised drinking event. The studyalso found that youth who were involved in supervised drinking attheir earlier days tended to develop higher likelihoods ofunsupervised drinking later on in life, and as much were also morevulnerable to risks associated with alcohol intake. The charts belowshow the comparisons between Washington and Victorian youngsters inalcohol intake and experience of harmful effects (McElroy, 2011).

(SocialDevelopment Research Group, 2011)

Accordingto the findings above a significant number of respondents hadexperienced harmful consequences as a result of drinking- whethersupervised or not. However, it emerged that more than half of allrespondents who had been in a supervised drinking event experiencedharmful effects. The Washington eighth grade population, forinstance, had 68% say that they had been in an adult superviseddrinking event, and 35% of the population who drank under supervisionexperienced harmful effects. This translates to more than half therespondents experiencing harmful effects. In Victoria, Australia, 82%of youthful respondents said they had been in a supervised drinkingevent, and 44% said they had experienced harmful effects due toalcohol intake. This translates to more than half of the entirepopulation that had been in a drinking event with supervision (SocialDevelopment Research Group, 2011).

Onthe other hand, youth who had been in un-supervised drinking eventsalso reported having harmful effects, but to a lesser extent. Taking, for instance, the data for Washington, 32% of youth in eighthgrade had been in a drinking event without any form of supervision.13% of all respondents in this category reported having had badeffects. This percentage is less than half of all respondents whotook alcohol without supervision. Similarly for youth in Victoria,Australia, 51% of respondents reported having been in a drinkingevent without supervision, and only 19% of respondents who had takenalcohol without supervision had reported harmful effects. This againtranslates to less than half of all respondents in this category.Overall, it seems that the idea of supervised drinking by parents maynot well meet the objectives it was supposed to meet. This is clearlyevident based on the above statistics, where youths who took alcoholwith supervision were more likely to get harmful side effects in thefuture when they drank alone than those youth who ventured intoalcohol intake without adult supervision( Social Development ResearchGroup, 2011).

Thereare various possible explanations for this outcome. Firstly, parentalsupervision of teenage alcohol intake may not be taken so positivelyby the teenagers because their freedom is still somewhat limited.They feel that they are not in control of their own experience whenat the drinking table, something that is essential for the averageadult when they get in a drinking event. For the teenagers, the ideaof drinking is not to taste alcohol, but to feel the effects oftaking alcohol, something they are unlikely to get when adults arewatching over them. For the adults, on the other hand, the idea ofsupervising their teenage children drink is to give the teens thebest of both sides: consume alcohol like an adult but do so withinsafety limits. This ideally would keep teens away from indulging incuriosity and perhaps from getting involved in a secret binge partyin which they would be more vulnerable to harmful effects. The youth,on the other hand, yearn to escape from the controlling adults duringthe drinking events, and have their own unrestricted experiences.This notion is further fueled by the peer influence, where youth whoengage in unrestricted, unsupervised drinking may suggested to theirpeers that they (ones in supervised drinking) are missing out onvital experiences, and that supervised drinking is undesirable.

Inaddition, there may be experiences in which parents would losecontrol during supervised drinking due to excessive consumption, andtherefore expose their youth to unregulated drinking. This mayimmediately expose the teens in such events to adverse alcoholeffects, especially because no manner of caution is initially put inplace by the teens to control them, having left all control at themercy of adults. Such mishaps maybe responsible for a significantnumber of adverse alcohol effects experienced by teens overall.

Thereal danger of supervised drinking, however, lies in the mentalityteens develop owing to supervision. They lack the freedom of selfexpression during the event and this makes them feel trapped in asituation where parents think they are happy, but they know they arenot. The future effect of this notion is that teens will look for anopportunity to explore whatever experience they believe was deniedthem by their parents during supervised drinking. This propels themto involve in binge parties where they can drink the much they want,say whatever they want, and interact freely with friends. During suchevents, the average teen is likely to exceed the safety limits ofalcohol intake, and is therefore overly susceptible to harmfuleffects. This is in contrast to the drinking experience in whichteens are already aware that, without supervision, they must takeresponsibility for their own actions, and are therefore more likelyto exercise caution. This may explain the study data above in whichteens who had been in unsupervised drinking are less likely toexperience adverse effects due to alcohol intake in the future.

2.7Lack of Close Parent Association with Teenagers and TeenageAlcoholism

Parentsare the most influential powers on a child’s mind before the age often, and possibly much longer depending on the type of parent-childassociations created in earlier years. A research conducted by theDepartment of Human Development in Cornell University found thatadolescent age is perhaps the riskiest phase of human development.Roughly, teenagers are already aware of some of the dangers they factduring their teenage years, such as teenage pregnancy, dropping outof school, and contacting health conditions such as HIV AIDSDepartment of (Health and Ageing, Australia, 2006). The reaction thatthis awareness prompts in teens is a major determinant of how wellthey adapt to the teenage problem, and this is where parentalguidance is needed (Reyna &amp Farley, 2006).

Theresearch by Cornell University found that risk awareness in teens mayactually make them panic and make immature, even riskier decisionsabout their lives. Bombarding youth with facts about the risks theyface, even where such risks are real and imminent, only serves tomake them desperate about life since, after all, and these risksmight happen to them. The result of this regressive reasoning is thatyouths tend to take bigger risks and make more unreasonable decisionsbecause, after all, they are pre-destined for doom (Reyna &ampFarley, 2006). The research suggest that parents need to come up witha structured yet practical guide to help their teens feel like theyare in charge of their situation and that adolescent risks do notnecessarily have to happen to them so long as they practice safelifestyles. Grube (2005) asserts that, lack of proper parentalguidance to children is indeed a source of early alcoholism,especially where parents opt for supervised drinking as a way toteach teenagers to practice safe drinking. Parents lack proper skillsaimed at guiding their teenage children about responsible living,thereby exposing them to unwanted influence which often leads to risktaking.

Theamount of time parents spend with their teenage children is a keyfactor in developing close association with teens, and consequentlyin determining how freely adolescents share their experiences withtheir parents. Grube (2005) observes that, lack of quality time withparents contributes significantly to teenage desperation, a leadingreason for risky behavior, including tendency to take alcohol.Parents are a source of guidance and reassurance for teenagers, andshould strive to closely monitor the progress, academically, sociallyand physically of their children. Romer &amp Jamieson (2001) relatesteenage smoking, for instance, with teenage observation of peoplethey look up to, and not on lack of information regarding healtheffects of smoking. He asserts that teenagers are more likely tolisten to parent’s opinion regarding contentious issues than onexisting scientific evidence regarding the same, thereby stressingthat parents should continually offer guidance and set examples fortheir underage children in matters relating to sexuality, teenagedrug and substance abuse and issues of personality development.


Thestudy has explored the various leading sources of teenage alcoholismand alcohol abuse, with specific focus on the role of parents in thisrising trend. The American drinking culture is at the middle of thisrising trend, with Americans consuming up to one third of all liquorproduced in the world. This culture is passed down all the way to thefamily, so that parents now already believe their children should bedrinking, and it is just a matter of supervision and control. Thisbelief is not working positively for teens, and is leading todangerous alcohol intake. Binge drinking is also a major contributorfor teenage alcoholism, seeing that about half of the reasons teensdrink is so that they can feel part of a group. Most importantly,parents lack close association with their children, while they aresupposed to be the role models and the strongest influence on theirchildren before and during adolescent age. Lack of close associationis driving the teenagers away to look for other sources ofinspiration and guidance, and is invariably exposing them to riskyassociation with peer groups. Peer influence is a leading contributorto teenage or underage alcoholism, and poor parental association is aleading cause of effects associated with peer influence. Therefore,the modern parent is entirely to blame for all outcomes associatedwith underage alcoholism and alcohol abuse today.


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