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Under Age Drinking

A Shattering Problem

Addiction at any age is a catastrophic crisis. Addiction before a child even reaches maturity can be a life-long disaster. As a result, under age drinking is a major concern for parents, teachers, doctors, and for all levels of society.

Easy access to a hard life

  • The availability of alcohol
  • The problems of abuse and addiction
  • Solving the problem

Ready-to-Hand: Alcohol and the Under Age Child

As parents, we like to believe our children have no real access to drink. If we ourselves drink, we “put our liquor away,” behind the doors of cabinets or even in locked sideboards. If we don’t drink, we trust the identification card programs in place to bar our children from alcohol.

Unfortunately, those safeguards are seldom, if ever, sufficient. A child has a thousand ways to work around rules and restrictions. From clever filching from adults in his or her life, to shoplifting, to cutting deals with older children, children who want to experience the exotic adult vice of drinking can find a way. Many minors won’t have to look for temptation: temptation will come to them, pulled casually from a friend’s backpack or passed down a row in a school football stadium. With alcohol popular, easily purchased, and inexpensive, few children will reach adulthood without having been given the chance to form a drinking habit, and a small but desperate few will become addicts before they ever come of age.

The Effect of Drinking On the Young

Alcohol in moderation has some few beneficial effects on adults. On children, there’s no sign that alcohol is in any way beneficial, and sure signs that drinking is damaging even beyond the effect on adults. Children are, by definition, still developing physically and neurologically. Brains are still growing, cognitive developments are still underway, and physical growth is not yet complete. Alcohol is a powerful toxin that acts on the nervous system, including the brain. It causes destruction and deformation of vital structures. Where drinking in an adult degrades a mature system, drinking in a minor can prevent a mature system from ever forming.

All these classic problems of drinking apply to the young – and they apply while disrupting vital years of training and socialization, as well as physical and neurological development. Schooling, sports, extracurricular activities, social bonding: all are subject to interference by even occasional drinking, and are especially vulnerable to regular abuse and addictive drinking. Abusive and addictive drinking can ruin lives at any age, but they can prevent youngsters from ever having the chance of a normal life. The bodies done to their bodies and brains will be with them for life. So will the damage done to their vital coming-of-age years.

Dealing With an Under Age Drinker

Depending on the stage at which you discover a child has a drinking problem, there are many possible routes that can be taken to recovery. In the early stages, counseling and social rehabilitation may be sufficient. For those with a severe abuse or addiction problem, the classic process of withdrawal and rehab combined with special youth and family oriented counseling becomes more appropriate.

There are many ways to find great programs for a child and his or her family. A doctor, hospital, or medical clinic may be able to provide referrals, as may a school counselor or child psychologist. State and county health and family services departments like this one can also often provide good referrals. For many professional referral agencies, however, prove the most reliable and helpful resources of all, at all levels of the process.

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