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Effects of underage drinking on the academic development of teenagers Research Paper

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Updated: Apr 10th, 2019

Abstract

This paper attempts to investigate the effects of underage drinking on the academic development of the teenagers. In effect the question which is posed in this research seeks to investigate the severity of the effects of alcohol abuse on the school attendance of the teenagers.

The effects which arise as a result of underage drinking and which ultimately affects their academic development impact on three areas. One of the possible areas that alcohol abuse impacts on is the teenager’s brain development. It has been argued that it is during adolescence that the part of the human brain responsible for the regulation of emotion develops.

The other possible effect of alcohol abuse is on the personality of the teenager. This is because alcohol has a way of inhibiting rational thinking. As a result the person concerned reacts to very minor problems in anger, he is always anxiety as well as developing dependence on alcohol which ends up hurting his progress academically. At the same time, the students find it very difficult to relate to figures in authority.

In addition, alcohol abuse has an effect on the learning ability of the students. This is as a result of the fact that alcohol abuse can severely impair the part of the brain which is responsible for memory due to the fact that the human brain at this stage is very vulnerable.

The rationale of the study is to investigate the effects of underage drinking on the academic development of the teenagers. This will provide critical information which can be used to craft the necessary policies in order to address this problem.

The method used in this research to collect the information is by use of questionnaire. This was used to collect the information about the extent of the effects of underage drinking on the academic development of the teenagers.

Introduction

It is has been noted that teenagers who start taking alcohol have a problem in as far as their academic development is concerned. For this reason it is important that the parents play an active role in the lives of their children; by giving them sound advice and also ensuring that they act as appropriate role models.

This sometimes entails being protective and keeping track of the company that the teenager keeps as well as the places which they visit. This will in turn make the child accountable and he is likely to keep away from the places and the company that the parents disapprove (Gifford 2009).

According to Gifford (2009), if the parents do not advise their teenagers appropriately, they are likely to get the wrong information from the media as well as from their peers. It has been pointed out that the time that the teenager spends taking alcohol could be used more constructively in academic pursuits.

Additionally, Myers and Isralowitz (2011) argue that the teenagers are more likely to be adversely affected by alcohol abuse more than adults would. This is because it is during the adolescence stage that the brain develops and any disruption on this development is likely to have very detrimental effect on the life of that teenager.

It is the responsibility of the parents, teachers, government as well as any other relevant stakeholders to ensure that the teenagers are sufficiently protected to ensure that they do not engage in underage drinking. Therefore, alcohol drinking in teenagers has an effect of adversely affecting the ability of the teenagers to develop academically as it disrupts their learning ability.

Literature review

Effects of underage drinking on Development

According to Hannigan et al. (1999), there are various stages in human development. The stages can be enumerated as-childhood, adolescence and then the transition into adulthood.

It has been argued that alcohol abuse starts during early adolescence and then levels off when the teenagers are getting into their twenties. Alcohol abuse in teenagers has an effect of affecting their character and behavior.

According to Galanter (2005), some behaviors that can help a parent in identifying whether the teenager has been initiated in alcohol abuse include: the teenager has a problem in interacting with others, poor self control, problem with depression, and also extreme shyness.

These signs could point out to the possibility that the teenagers could be engaging in alcohol abuse and this could have a profound effect on his development. It can also be argued that those teenagers who have extreme behavioral and personality disorders are the ones who are more likely to develop alcohol disorders even in adulthood.

According to Castillo (2009), it can also be argued that children who have been brought up in families which have conducive environment are less likely to engage in alcohol abuse. This conducive family environment is fostered by parents who are responsive to the needs of their children.

This in turns helps the parents to be attentive to the behavior of their children and to be in a better position to rectify errant behavior including underage drinking.

Conversely those children who are brought up in dysfunctional families are more likely to engage in underage drinking with very disastrous effects. In addition, those teenagers who are brought up in families whose parents are struggling with alcohol disorders are more likely to engage in teenage drinking.

It has also been pointed out that during the adolescence stage teenagers starts to identify more with their peers. It is at this stage that these peers might start to pressurize the teenager to conform to the negative practices prevalent in the peer group. This negative behavior may include alcohol and drug abuse. The teenagers may resort to engage in alcohol abuse so that they can gain acceptance in the group (Park 2008).

According to Bonnie and O’Connell (2004), there are two major factors which might influence the teenager to engage in alcohol abuse. These factors are: environmental influences and genetic influences. In early adolescence stage when the teenager is being initiated in alcohol drinking the factors which are likely to come into play are the environmental factors.

However, in late adolescent stages the factors which are more likely to influence the likelihood of alcohol abuse are the genetic influences. These genetic influences could be specifically related to alcohol abuse or have an influence on the character of the teenager that can predispose him to engage in alcohol abuse.

According to Tsuang and Stone (2007), it is also known that the different regions of the brain do not all develop at the same time. Regions like the one responsible for regulation of emotions develop during the period of early adolescence.

This is because the hormones which are responsible for the development of this region are also the same ones which set the stage for one to get into puberty. On the other hand, the frontal cortex which is responsible for self regulation and decision making develops with time even after the end of the adolescence stage.

This is the reason why the adolescence stage is marked by heightened emotions with very little control over ones actions. This sets the stage for alcohol abuse especially if the youth is not properly mentored and guided by the parents.

Another factor which predisposes the teenagers to alcohol abuse is the differences in alcohol sensitivity between the adolescents and the adults. It has been proven that the adolescents are less likely to feel the effects of alcohol abuse acutely as compared to the adults.

This explains why the teenagers can engage in much heavier heavy drinking without feeling the same level of physiological effects experienced by the adults. This in effect implies that the teenagers are more likely to engage in heavy drinking which has the effect of impairing their development process (Tsuang and Stone 2007).

Myers and Isralowitz (2011) claim that alcohol abuse in teenagers is likely to affect: school attendance, the development of the brain, concentration, and the relationships that the teenager has with the parents and peers. All these effects will have a profound effect on the future of the teenagers in becoming productive members of the society.

Additionally, it is argued that the teenagers who engage in underage drinking are more likely to engage in alcohol abuse in adulthood and possibly develop dependence on alcohol. It is also known that adolescents are more prone to the negative effects on memory due to alcohol abuse as compared to the adults. Research has also shown that teenagers are also more susceptible to brain damage than the adults.

Effects of underage drinking on personality

According to Goldberg (2005), alcohol abuse has a way of impacting on our personality adversely. If alcohol abuse is allowed to go on for long it often leads to depression, anxiety and anger.

The most unfortunate thing is that the consumption of alcohol may inhibit the ability of the person to reflect on his actions thereby making him to act on the above mentioned negative traits with often very disastrous effects. Teenagers who engage in alcohol abuse may become withdrawn and generally unwilling to be part of the society. Alcohol abuse has the ability to turn a very gentle person into a very unreasonable one.

However, the concerned person might not even be aware of the changes and even in instances where they are aware they may even deny that they have a problem therefore making it very difficult for the concerned person to request for professional assistance.

According to Reiss et al. (1993), alcohol abuse affects the way we react to normal occurrences; the person who has been affected tends to overreact when faced with very minor problems. On the other hand, when faced with very major problem the person often resorts to anger and physical abuse.

During the initiation stage in alcohol abuse, a person may realize that he is somewhat in control of how much beer that he consumes. However, if the person persists in alcohol abuse he is very likely to develop dependence on alcohol such that he cannot be able to engage in any activity without consuming alcohol.

In fact, the problem may persist until he gets to a point where he cannot solve any problem but actually turns to alcohol abuse to avoid the responsibility of having to face his responsibilities head on.

Furthermore, the person gets to a point where he takes alcohol in order to alleviate depression. According to Schuckit (2005), instead of alcohol helping to lessen depression, it might actually lead to more depression. This is because the person develops tolerance to alcohol such that he requires more alcohol each time in order to alleviate the depression.

Alcohol is also known to have an effect of lessening anxiety. In fact, it is argued that when alcohol is taken in moderation it might help in calming the nerves. Nonetheless, when the consumption of alcohol exceeds a particular amount it might actually result into more anxiety.

This forms a vicious cycle in that the person has to engage in more drinking in order to alleviate the anxiety. Finally, in the process the person might actually develop dependence on alcohol.

According to Schuckit (2005), alcohol abuse results to a situation where the person actually shifts his goals in life such that everything revolves around alcohol. Consumption of alcohol becomes the most important thing in that person’s life. Everything else just fades into comparison.

If it is a teenager he might actually neglect his studies which impacts negatively on his academic pursuits and on his ability to become a productive member of the society. This heavy dependence on alcohol has an effect of affecting the relationship that the person has with those who are close to him like the family and friends.

As a result when confronted with a very small problem, the person will most likely react by being violent. This is because alcohol ends up impairing his ability to think rationally therefore resulting to those angry and violent outbursts.

Alcohol abuse has an effect on the learning process of the person concerned. This is because inhibits the synthesis of proteins in the neurons of the brain which is crucial in the encoding of new information. This can result to a situation where the person easily gets disoriented with loud noises and bright lights.

Learning process may also be hampered by the dependency that comes along with alcohol abuse. This is because the person must always consume alcohol in order to perform even the most basic of all tasks.

In addition, alcohol affects the ability of the person to get sufficient sleep. This is because alcohol interferes with the sleeping pattern such that if the person is disturbed while sleeping he is not likely to resume sleeping.

Effects of underage drinking on the Learning process

Ammerman et al. (1999), adduces that the adolescent brain is more susceptible to alcohol. In fact, is argued that the teenagers are more likely to suffer from dysfunctional memory as a result of the effects of alcohol abuse. This can have a significant effect on the learning capability of the teenagers.

It is claimed that the most severe neurological damage on teenagers as a result of alcohol damage occurs in the region in the brain which is responsible for learning and memory. This ultimately implies that underage drinking has the effect of hampering the learning ability and intellectual development of the adolescents.

Other effects that might affect the learning ability of the adolescents are the sleep disturbance, depression, as well as alcohol intoxication and withdrawal symptoms. All these factors might contribute to the deterioration of the academic performance of the concerned students.

Alcohol abuse also affects the ability of the students to attend classes regularly as well as derailing the students from being able to catch up on their schoolwork. This arrested intellectual development occurring during adolescence stage is likely to persist even in adulthood.

Consequently, it is advocated that the teenagers should be protected against the promotions and advertisement which tends to glorify alcohol consumption in order to preclude them against engaging in alcohol consumption which ultimately lead to alcohol abuse.

Methodology

The method used in the collection of the relevant data is by use of questionnaire. It seeks to investigate the effects of alcohol abuse with regard to school attendance. The questionnaire is in form of questions.

The questions posed in the questionnaire include: The severity of the effects of alcohol abuse on the school attendance of the teenagers affected by alcohol abuse. The respondents were supposed to rate the effects of alcohol abuse on a scale of between one and ten. With one representing the least severe effect and ten used to denote the most severe.

The respondents selected for the purpose of this research were drawn from diverse field with the majority being drawn from the education sector. The sampling method used in drawing the participants is the probability sampling method where all the members of the selected population had an equal chance of being selected to participate in the study (McBurney and White 2009).

This was intended to avoid bias. In addition, the respondents were drawn such that there was equal representation of male and females. The objective of this research was to gather information on the severity of the effects of drug abuse on the affected underage drinkers.

This was informed by the fact that inability of the students to attend class due to alcohol abuse has a profound effect on their academic development. This has an effect of affecting the future of these teenagers to become useful members of the society (Ammerman et al.1999).

Results and discussion

The results of the research indicated that the majority of the respondents believed that alcohol abuse had severe effects on the school attendance of the affected students. This is because it has been proven that alcohol abuse is one of the leading cases that cause drop outs among the students. This has a detrimental effect on the ability of the students to exert themselves in academic pursuits.

This is exacerbated by the fact that alcohol abuse leads to inability by the affected students to consistently attend classes as well as catch up on their school work. At the same time, the student spends a lot of time dealing with the hangover which comes with drug abuse.

Another reason why the academic development might be hampered is because of the negative effect that the alcohol abuse could have on the brain development of the concerned teenagers (Thatcher 2011).

Moreover, according to Christine Bichler (2000), “alcohol use affects decision making which can result in poor choices that influence everything from physical and mental health to relationships with friends, family, and peers, as well as work and study habits and other habits that affect your (teens’) future” (p. 8).

At the same time, the dependence that comes with alcohol abuse results to a situation where the student cannot concentrate in class unless he consumes alcohol. It can be concluded that the older members of the society have failed to act as effective role models and this have had an effect of encouraging the teenagers to engage in alcohol abuse.

It has been pointed out that alcohol abuse is one of the top reasons why teenagers drop out of school. In fact it has been reported that about half of the high school students claim to have taken alcohol at least once. One of the most notable sign which indicate that the teenager is engaging in underage drinking is a drop in academic performance in school.

This is exacerbated by failure to attend all the classes as well as the fact that those teenagers have a problem in dealing with figures of authority like the teachers. In addition, this drop in performance can be attributed to the fact that the teenagers often gets in trouble at home due to his failure to abide by the laid down rules at home.

Alcohol abuse is also the avenue which ushers in the teenagers to engage in consumption of other hard drugs like marijuana and cocaine (Torr 2002).

Conclusion

In order to ensure that the teens do not engage in underage drinking, it is important that early intervention strategies should be instituted to ensure that those teenagers who are more likely to engage in underage drinking are well catered for to ensure that they do not engage in it.

At the same time, all the stakeholders who are involved in the development of the child should be enlightened on what signs they should look out for in a teenager who engages in alcohol abuse. This will help them to offer the necessary support and help to those teenagers to help them to stop alcohol abuse.

Another strategy that can be used to prevent the teenagers against engaging in alcohol abuse is educating them on the dangers of drug abuse. This training should entail teaching the teenagers about the positive coping skills in order to prevent them from engaging in alcohol abuse.

Some of the stakeholders who can contribute in educating the youth about the dangers of alcohol abuse include the churches and community agencies. All in all, everybody in the community needs to get involved in protecting the teenagers against alcohol abuse with a view to enabling them to be achieve their academic pursuits.

It has been noted that the effects of the alcohol abuse on the teenagers impacts on their social development, their personality as well as on their learning development. All these have a great bearing on the ability of the teenagers to advance academically. At the same time, alcohol abuse impairs the ability of the teenagers to be able to concentrate fully in class or even while studying.

However, another interesting thing to note is that alcohol abuse creates dependence which impedes on the ability of the person concerned to be able to face life challenges with a view to looking for solution. Consequently, this impacts on the ability of the person to be able to exert and work hard in school in order to succeed academically.

In order to reduce the likelihood of the teenagers engaging in alcohol abuse the teachers and parents should cooperate and ensure that all the students get the right information on alcohol abuse. At the same time, the government should step in and ensure that all the advertisement that seeks to encourage underage drinking should be eliminated.

Reference List

Ammerman, R. Ott, P. and Tarter, R. (1999). Prevention and societal impact of drug and alcohol abuse. Mahwah, NJ: Taylor & Francis.

Bichler, C. (2000). Teen Drinking. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group.

Bonnie, R. and O’Connell, M. (2004). Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Castillo, K. (2009). The Causes That Lead Teenagers to Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Norderstedt, Germany: GRIN Verlag.

Galanter, M (2005). Alcohol Problems in Adolescents and Young Adults. Newyork, NY: Plenum Publishers.

Gifford, M. (2009). Alcoholism. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO.

Goldberg, R. (2005). Drugs across the spectrum. Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education.

Hannigan, J. Spear, L. and Spear, N. (1999). Alcohol and alcoholism: effects on brain and development. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

McBurney, D. and White, T. (2009). Research Methods. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Myers, P. and Isralowitz, R. (2011). Alcohol. Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Park, J (2008). Korean American adolescents’ alcohol abuse. Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest LLC.

Reiss, A. Roth, J and Miczek, K. (1993). Understanding and Preventing Violence: Social influences. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Schuckit, M. (2005). Drug and Alcohol Abuse: A Clinical Guide to Diagnosis And Treatment, New York, NY: Springer.

Thatcher, R. (2011). Thinkin’ Drinkin’: From the Teen Years Forward: A Rational, Safe, Worry-Free Approach to Lifetime Alcohol Use or Abstinence. Bloomington, IN: Balboa Press.

Torr, J. (2002). Teens and alcohol. Chicago, IL: Greenhaven Press.

Tsuang, M. and Stone, W. (2007). Recognition And Prevention of Major Mental and Substance Use Disorder. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

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