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Pre Teens And Alcoholism

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Term paper on Pre-teens and alcoholism

Alcoholism has been a very important malady of the modern society and has attracted much attention from sociologists, academicians and medical practitioners since many years. Much progress has been made in either containing or mitigating the adverse effects of alcoholism in adults as well as adolescents in the past few years. However, as much as there have been successes in containing the problem of alcoholism in the society, newer problems also have been creeping up that throw new challenges to social workers. One of the more recent fallout of alcoholism in adults and youngsters is pre-teen alcoholism, which needs to be considered with extreme caution because the deleterious effects of alcohol on children in their pre-teen years is much more than the effects that are seen in adults or the youth.


Michael Windle observes that 'the concept of alcoholism, in its most general sense, refers to a disease, or disorder, typically characterized by: (a) a prolonged period of frequent, heavy alcohol use; (b) a variety of social and/or legal problems associated with alcohol use (e.g., driving while intoxicated, impaired school/work performance); and (c) the expression of dependency symptoms (e.g., unpleasant withdrawal effects when unable to consume alcohol).' [Windle, 1998, p. 1]. In children these symptoms may manifest much easily than in adults because of their tender physical constituency.

Deviance in relation to alcoholism is characterized by the adverse social consequences associated with drinking alcohol and includes problems in the home, at school or college, with peers, or with legal authorities. Problems in the home include such behaviors as fighting with parents about drinking and keeping away from home. Problems at school or college include attending to school in drunken state, or missing school because of drinking. Problems with peers include such actions including street-fights, conflicts with girlfriend or boyfriend about changing one's drinking habit. And problems with legal authorities include events including getting into trouble with the police for fighting or for driving while drinking. Obviously, higher levels of alcohol consumption are associated with higher levels of alcohol induced problems.

Prevalence of teen alcoholics

Alcoholism is perhaps the most common deviance found among Americans today. In 1995, in the United States, 67% of all the population over the age of 12 reported drinking alcohol in the previous year. It is more often the first socially deviant behavior that an adolescent adopts as a psychological and social reaction. Though alcohol is considered a popular “social beverage” that gives the drinker a pleasurable and relaxing feeling, the social and or legal problems associated with alcoholism suggest that alcoholism involves or causes many deviant behaviors. Many alcohol-related problems, mainly personal and social difficulties, associated with the use of alcohol makes alcoholism a social deviance. When these effects manifest at a very young age in people, it becomes very difficult to get rid of them.

The number of pre-teens and adolescents getting involved with drugs and alcoholism are slowly increasing over the past few years even though it has been accepted that the numbers have stabilized. The increasing number of teen alcoholics reflects in the increasing number and nature of crimes committed by them. Statistics show that the numbers of pre-teen and adolescent alcoholics are steadily increasing. In a study conducted between 1992 and 2002, it was observed that the number of young alcoholics in their pre-teen years are increasing steadily [SAMSHA News Release, 2004] More disturbing is the fact that forty eight percent of adolescent treatment admissions were made up of people using alcohol or marijuana, or both. Similarly, independent research has shown that almost 80 percent of adolescents could have used alcohol by the time they are 12th-graders.

Even more disturbing is the fact that 12 percent of 8th-graders could have consumed five or more drinks on a single occasion during the past two weeks or less. Although theses statistics indicate that the number of underage drinkers have been falling since the 1970s, it indicates that the trend might be catching up and that we could have more under aged drinkers in the near future.

The decrease in the number of under age drinkers were probably because the government promulgated laws that banned under age drinking. Similarly the government has taken many steps to contain alcoholism in adolescents. However, there have been a lot of changes in our social environment that encourages even under aged people to take to alcohol. The liberal society is a big factor that encourages under-age drinking [NIAAA News Release, 2004]

Parental influences

There are many factors that directly and indirectly affect the emotional growth of children. Alcoholism also plays a role in modifying the behavioral tendencies in children.

Some of the factors are:

Direct Factors:

Ð'* Poor monitoring by alcoholic parents

Ð'* Low levels of 'emotional availability' of the parent

Ð'* Parental use of harsh discipline

Ð'* Tolerance to adolescent drinking

Ð'* Domestic unrest and fight within the family

Indirect Factors:

Ð'* Genetic predisposition to the use of alcohol

Ð'* Economic conditions precipitated by the use of alcohol by the parents

Ð'* Parental-child conflict

Problem drinking by parents is one of the most prominent causative factors of adolescent alcoholism. Children look up to their parents for support and direction during adolescence, which are actually the formative years of their life. It goes without saying that once the formative age is marred by unhealthy incidents, the character of children can indeed be harmed. It has been experimentally proved that poor monitoring by parents can lead children into bad company and undesirable habits.

Alcoholic parents do not have the inclination or interest to keep track of the activity of their children [Mona,



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