Learned young, done old: alcohol addiction among young people

Drinking in young people often starts innocently. Teenagers and young people try a beer or wine under the guise of socializing and wanting to try alcohol. But what starts out innocently can lead to problem drinking and eventually develop into alcohol addiction. 

Drinking at a young age

In 2019, a study was conducted into alcohol use among teenagers between the ages of 12 and 16. Almost half of those surveyed admitted to having drunk alcohol at some point. Of which 1 in 5 has consumed several glasses during a drink. 

It is not without reason that there is an age limit of 18 years for buying alcohol. The age limit for alcohol has been raised with the aim of reducing the availability and availability for young people, so that the use of alcohol by young people decreases.

The danger of drinking at a young age

The biggest danger of starting drinking at a young age is that it can cause damage to the brain, especially when it is still developing. The brain develops until you are about 24 years old. Until then, your brain is extra vulnerable to toxic influences. 

Excessive drinking from a young age can therefore cause irreparable damage, negatively affecting thought processes, memory and self-control. Alcohol can also cause concentration problems and affect your intelligence. Young people who drink regularly at a young age get worse grades at school faster than people who do not drink at a young age.

Risks of drinking in young people

Because your brain is developing until about age 24, excessive alcohol consumption can result in problems that can last a lifetime. This is because excessive alcohol consumption causes damage to the body. Drinking a lot can damage the heart, liver and stomach. The risk of cancer also increases. Alcohol is the cause of 4 to 6 percent of all people who die from cancer.

Alcohol also makes you fat, because it contains a lot of calories. In boys, the extra fat settles around the abdomen and in women mainly on the hips, thighs and arms. Young people can suffer from low self-esteem and alcohol can therefore reinforce this. 

When you are young, you are also more sensitive to addictions. If you start drinking young, you may be more likely to become addicted to alcohol later on.

Problems at a young age 

Excessive drinking can also be caused by underlying problems. For example, there may be loneliness, fear, low self-esteem or the work pressure becomes too much for them. This can be due to unpleasant events that the young people have experienced, such as abuse or bullying. Because of this, frequent drinking is used as an escape from reality. If this lasts long enough, you may even be struggling with alcohol addiction at a young age. 

Source of research on drinking among young people: https://expertisecentrumalcohol.trimbos.nl/items/details/achtergrondinformatie-bij-kerncijfers-over-alcoholgebruik