Alcohol Consumption in the Adolescent Population
CDC (2012) indicates that there are 80,000 annual deaths attributed to the excessive consumption of alcohol in the United States. An adolescent is an individual between the teenage years of 13 and 19 and is the transition age from childhood to adulthood. Adolescents are faced with numerous problems such as alcoholism. According to Reimuller & Ennett, (2011) alcoholism among the adolescent population is particularly common in United States. A nationally representative study revealed that some youths begin drinking when they are as young as 13 and by the time they become adults, they have become alcoholics. The study also revealed that the chance for alcohol consumption increases as the adolescent matures. For instance, 39% of 8th grade youths admitted to having tried an alcoholic beverage, whereas 72% of 12 graders admitted to having tried alcohol. The rising statistics of alcohol consumption among adolescents is worrying due to the numerous side effects associated with the habit. Adolescents who consume alcohol are prone to engage in reckless sexual behavior, fail in their studies and also participate in delinquent activity (Reimuller & Ennett, 2011). The early onset of alcohol consumption also increases the risk of alcohol and drug related complications in the adult life of the adolescent.
As mentioned earlier, there are several risk associated with the consumption of alcohol. Whereas some risks e.g. cardiovascular complications are long terms other risks are short term. Short term injuries include the occurrence of unintentional injuries such as falls, accidents and burns due to the intoxicated nature of the individual. Mike, an 18 years old boy is presented to the emergency room of a hospital with severe injuries due to a car accident. Upon initial assessment, the youth is found to be intoxicated. Driving under the influence of alcohol is attributed to the rising number of car accidents in the country.
Effect of the Environment on Families
Studies have indicated a strong correlation between the direct environment that an individual is exposed to and the degree of functionality and dysfunctionality among the members of the household. The physical setting is adequate to disrupt and change the day-to-day life of an individual. According to Snedker, Herting & Walton (2009) an individual’s neighborhood plays a vital role of predicting the outcomes of different populations. Adolescents are most susceptible to the role of neighborhoods as the neighborhood experience influences their behavior.
Unfortunately, neighborhood influences have been linked to risky outcomes in adolescents. Snedker, Herting & Walton (2009) point out the disadvantaged of youths being raised in disadvantaged and unstable neighborhoods. Such neighborhoods have strained resources, and access to employment opportunities is minimal. Deficits such as these lead to a variety of problem behaviors among neighborhood inhabitants. Adolescents raised in deprived neighborhood tend to adopt the social ills such as substance and drug abuse, as they witness their peers and other adults doing. Neighborhoods can also be moderators and help adolescents adopt positive behavior in life. Some neighborhoods provide adolescents with personal resources such as coping, family resources such as support, monitoring and bonding that ensure adolescents avert negative behavior. The family also presents adolescents with an environment that either negatively or positively affect them in relation to alcohol abuse. According to Cleveland, Feinberg & Greenberg, (2009) a well functioning family has more beneficial outcomes than a dysfunctional family. Similarly, the well-functioning school strives to ensure that their children attend schools with above average protection to their children. Protection in this regard refers to preventive measures that ensure that adolescents do not engage in risky behavior such as alcohol consumptions.
It is evident that alcohol consumption among adolescents takes places in a social environment. It is important, therefore that a viable solution is established to prevent the consumption of alcohol in adolescents such as Mike, the 18years old patient. The cue-reminder can be improvised to remind adolescents constantly in the need to avoid alcohol consumption. Continuous communication has always been perceived to be the ideal way to enhance adolescent awareness on the danger of alcohol consumption. However, since the communication and awareness process is not continuous, there is a risk of adolescents forgetting or disregarding what they have been taught as soon as the information is provided to them.
The cue-reminder takes a visual approach with the intention of reminding adolescents on the need to overcome peer pressure and avoid the impulsive desire to engage in social drinking. Cue-reminders can be successful in countering alcohol appealing cues presented to an adolescent at a specific environment. Cue reminders also minimize the chances of an adolescent engaging in a risky behavior and encourage the adolescent to adopt reinforcing actions to avert the desire to consume alcohol. Cue reminders also encourage adolescents to adopt self enhancing and self-protecting cognitions and actions (Kleinjan, Strick, & Lemmer, 2012).
However, the use of the cue-reminder intervention does not guarantee that adolescents will cease the consumption of alcohol. Cue-reminders appeal to the memory of adolescents over a previously acquired information. The use of cue-reminders in an environment that may trigger alcohol consumption in adolescents may result to a reduction of alcoholic drinks that an individual might take. However, it is not a guarantee that it might entirely prevent an adolescent from consuming any more alcohol.
Alcohol consumption has been on the rise among adolescents /youths despite different intervention and preventive strategies aimed at preventing this problem. It is not a guarantee, therefore, that cue-reminders will be successful in preventing alcoholism among adolescents (Krzysztof, 2006). The adoption of the cue-reminders may also be applicable only to a small population of adolescents and not the entire adolescent population in the country. However, it is better for communities to take up all realistic preventive measure to ensure that children get a chance to lead normal adult lives that are unaffected by environmental factors such as alcoholism. The use of cue reminders coupled with regular communication on alcohol-specific information on alcohol use and its related consequences is an ideal approach in ensuring that the problem of alcoholism among adolescents is reduced significantly.
The environment plays a significant role in shaping the life individuals within a family unit. The environment can be analyzed from the social context, the community and the family context. All these contexts directly and indirectly affect and individual and the overall lifestyle that he adopts. With regard to alcoholism, the number of adolescents and youths consuming alcohol has been on an alarming rise. The environment plays a significant role in influencing the behavior of adolescent with regard to alcohol; consumptions. Strategies such as the use of cue-reminders can be adopted across the different social context that put adolescents at risk of taking alcoholic beverage. The cue-reminder should be supported with constant information to adolescents about the dangers of alcho9l consumption and the need to avoid the habit.
Cleveland, M., Feinberg, M., & Greenberg, M. (2010). Protective families in high- and low-risk environments: implications for adolescent substance use. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(2), 114-126. Doi: 10.1007/s10964-009-9395-y
Kleinjan, M., Strick, M., Lemmers, L., & Engels, R. (2012). The effectiveness of a cue-reminder intervention to reduce adolescents' alcohol use in social contexts. Alcohol and Alcoholism (Oxford, Oxfordshire), 47(4), 451-457. doi:10.1093/alcalc/ags038
Krzysztof, O. A. (2006). The effects of cumulative risks and promotive factors on urban adolescent alcohol and other drug use: A longitudinal study of resiliency. American Journal of Community Psychology, 38(3-4), 237-49. Doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10464-006-9076-x
Reimuller, A., Hussong, A., & Ennett, S. T. (2011). The influence of alcohol-specific communication on adolescent alcohol use and alcohol-related consequences. Prevention Science, 12(4), 389-400. doi:http://dx.Doi.org/10.1007/s11121-011-0227-4
Snedker, K. A., Herting, J. R., & Walton, E. (2009). Contextual Effects and Adolescent Substance Use: Exploring the Role of Neighborhoods. Social Science Quarterly (Wiley-Blackwell), 90(5), 1272-1297. Doi:10.1111/j.1540-6237.2009.00677.