Some people may view adolescent drinking as a rite of passage but research is showing teens overindulging with alcohol in their youthful days appear to have far greater health related issues later in life than non-drinkers.
This study from the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Health Care System in Menlo Park, California, showed there can be serious health consequences including both mental and physical from heavy drinking in young adulthood occurring decades ago. It included about 600 U.S. male veterans of whom about half had had a drinking problem when they were young.
Even if someone had been a problem drinker in the past but had become clean and sober, were still more likely to suffer from health problems in their later years. For example, the study looked at 44 health-related problems which included diabetes and heart disease. It was found that men who were alcoholics at a young age had on average at least three medical conditions in their 60’s compared to men who did not drink in their youth, who had only two medical conditions.
Teenage drinking has always been a problem over the years. As a young person enters into this phase of their life with less supervision and more opportunities to make decisions on their own, there can be the risk of them turning to underage alcohol use. The use of alcohol at a young age puts them at risk of academic failure, illicit drug use, tobacco use, and traffic crashes. It also increases their risk of serious later life health problems.
The question concerning teen drinking has always been why some teens are able to sidestep this choice of underage drinking and others struggle with it. From this study it was surmised that some of the men who overindulged in alcohol at a young age may have been using it as a form of self-medication for emotional reasons during their life such as depression.
Other studies have shown that when a young person drinks chronically it can damage parts of the brain involved in self-control and decision-making. Because of that, it could be why these men may have made poor choice of certain behaviors harmful to health such as smoking or drug abuse throughout their life.
This study clearly points out the necessity of parents becoming aware of any type of substance abuse their teenager may be doing, including excessive drinking of alcohol. By ignoring the problem or not addressing it, it may only set their child up for later life chronic health issues.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of underage teen drinking and getting them the help they need, can help turn their life around to have a happier, healthier future ahead of them.