Alcohol consumption begins in adolescence. Indeed, it has been recorded that 85.7% of 17-year-olds have already tasted an alcoholic beverage. Additionally, 44% report having experienced at least one episode of binge drinking in the month, and 8.4% consume alcohol at least 10 times a month.
Numerous factors explain the attraction of young people to alcohol.
During adolescence, many neuronal changes occur. Among them are the search for sensations and impulsivity. There is also a greater sensitivity to the stimulating effects of alcohol. Similarly, among adolescents, drinking heavily appears more rewarding than moderate consumption.
There is also the social influence of other young people. Indeed, during gatherings, it is easy to be influenced to drink, whether by the encouragement of others or by engaging in alcohol-related games. Drinking in a community can also provide a sense of integration.
Parents influence the consumption of young people. A study (Eimear M. et al., 2016) conducted in Ireland showed that adolescents with parents engaging in dangerous alcohol consumption are three times more likely to engage in dangerous consumption as well.
Approximately 42% of surveyed parents agreed to let their adolescents drink alcohol on special occasions, thereby facilitating the discovery and access to alcohol.
Furthermore, young people with a complicated family environment or facing a stressful situation are more at risk of excessive alcohol consumption.
Note that young people with greater access to alcohol through the presence of bars, nightclubs, and supermarkets nearby have higher consumption than those with less access.
However, alcohol consumption is not without danger for young people.
In addition to the risks associated with intoxication (coma, accidents) and various diseases, it can impair the proper development of the brain (which occurs until around 25 years of age).
Indeed, alcohol consumption can lead to a decrease in the volume of gray matter (neurons) and attenuate the development of white matter (connecting neurons).
These effects can alter brain activity, affecting many cognitive functions. For example, verbal learning, memory, reactivity, or self-control may be diminished. This can also lead to an increase in risky behavior (putting oneself and others in danger).
Therefore, to avoid these effects, it is important to initiate dialogue about alcohol and promote moderate and occasional consumption.
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