Body Fizzeek

Alcohol

Everyone knows that the legal drinking age throughout the UK is 18. But did you know that the average child has his or her first drink around age 10 years old.

Children put themselves at risk when drinking, apart from damage to their health it also can cause problems with the law, their school, parents and friends.

The decision to drink depends on the individual and peer pressure from others. What follows provides some facts about alcohol, including how alcohol affects the body, so you can make an educated choice to help protect your health..

What Is Alcohol?

Alcohol is created when fruits, vegetables, or grains are fermented, that is, when a process using yeast or bacteria causes the sugars in the original food product to change chemically into alcohol. Fermentation is used to produce many necessary items, such as cheeses, penicillin and other medications, B-complex vitamins, and citric acid. Alcohol has different forms and can be a useful product; it can be used as a cleaner, an antiseptic, or a sedative.

So if alcohol is a natural product, why do Children need to be concerned about drinking it? When Children drink, alcohol is absorbed into their bloodstream. From there, it affects the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), which controls virtually all body functions. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows the function of the central nervous system. That's why drinking small amounts of alcohol reduces anxiety.

Alcohol actually blocks some of the messages trying to get to the brain. This alters your perceptions, your emotions, and even your movements, vision, and hearing. More alcohol causes greater changes in the brain, resulting in intoxication. People who have overused alcohol may stagger, lose their coordination, and slur their speech. They will probably be confused and disoriented. Intoxication can make people very friendly and talkative or very aggressive and angry. Reaction times are slowed dramatically. People who are intoxicated may think they're moving properly, when they're not. They may act totally out of character.

When large amounts of alcohol are consumed in a short period of time, alcohol poisoning can result. Alcohol poisoning is very dangerous. Violent vomiting is usually the first symptom, as the body tries to rid itself of the alcohol. Extreme sleepiness, unconsciousness, difficulty breathing, dangerously low blood sugar, seizures, and even death may result.

Why Do Teens Drink?

For starters, people drink and use other drugs to feel good. Experimentation with alcohol during the early years is common. Some reasons that children use alcohol and other drugs are:

  • Curiosity
  • It feels good
  • To reduce stress and relax
  • To fit in
  • To feel older

From a very young age, kids are bombarded with advertising messages depicting beautiful, hip young adults enjoying life - and alcohol. This glamorous portrayal of alcohol may not be geared toward teens and kids, but it can still affect them. Plus, many parents and other adults use alcohol socially, having beer or wine with dinner, for example. In this setting, alcohol seems harmless enough, so many teens may think, "Why not?"

Why Shouldn't I Drink?

Even though it is illegal to drink alcohol in the UK until you are 18, most teens can get access to alcohol, or will at least be exposed to it or have friends who drink. It is therefore up to you to make a decision whether to drink.

Deciding to drink can have many harmful consequences. Some consequences show up right away, and others build up over long periods of time. Consider that the average teen first tries alcohol around age 10. This is long before the body or mind is ready to handle a powerful drug like alcohol. And the earlier kids start drinking, the more likely they will be to develop a problem with alcohol or drugs later in life.

Many children think that drinking alcohol will help them to relax and feel cool. Actually, drinking often makes people do stupid things. You may end up feeling embarrassed. Drinking also gives you bad breath, and having a hangover is not nice because you have a pounding headache, intense thirst, sickness, extreme sensitivity to light and noise, blurry vision, shakiness, exhaustion, and more.

Drinking can really damage your ability to perform well at school and sports. Many parents disapprove of their children drinking and punishment often results due to the parents not being able to control them.

How Can I Avoid Drinking?

Let's face it: if all your friends drink, it may be hard for you to say "no thanks." Not doing what many others do can be hard, especially for teens whose friends are really important to them. No one wants to risk feeling rejected or different.

If saying no to alcohol makes you feel uncomfortable, one effective strategy is to blame your parents or another adult for your refusal. Saying, "My parents are coming to pick me up soon," or "I already got in major trouble for drinking once, I can't do it again," can make saying no a little bit easier.

You can also make sure that you and your friends have plans to do something besides just hanging out in someone's basement drinking beer. Plan a trip to the movies, the mall, a concert, or a sports event - anything that gets you out of the house and keeps you active and entertained. You might also organize your friends into a volleyball, bowling, or softball team - any activity that gets you moving.

Where Can I Get Help?

When a teen realizes that there is a drinking problem, they needs to get help as soon as possible. Contacting a caring adolescent doctor, school guidance counselor, the AA (not the car people) or other trusted adult for advice is usually a good first step. They can refer students to a drug and alcohol counselor for evaluation and treatment. In some states, this treatment is completely confidential. After assessing a teen's problem, a counselor may recommend a brief stay in rehab or outpatient treatment. In recovery, a teen's physical and psychological dependence on alcohol will gradually be overcome.

What Can I Do if I'm Concerned About Someone Else's Drinking?

Many children live in homes where a parent or other family member drinks too much. This may make you angry, scared, and depressed. It's important to realize that many people can't control their drinking without help. This doesn't mean that they love or care about you any less. Alcoholism does not make people bad, it just means that they have an illness that needs to be treated.

Here are some common signs that a person has a problem with alcohol:

  • Using alcohol to escape problems
  • Habit
  • Major changes in personality when drinking
  • High tolerance level for alcohol (he or she needs to drink a lot more to get wasted)
  • Blackouts (not remembering what happened when drinking)
  • Problems at work or school because of drinking (like missing work or performing poorly)
  • Inability to control drinking (can't set limits and stick to them)

People with drinking problems can't stop drinking until they are ready to admit they have a problem and get help. This can leave family members and loved ones feeling helpless. The good news is there are many places to turn for help. An adult, whom you trust, such as your guidance counselor, can refer you to a professional or group who can help.

If you have a friend whose drinking concerns you, make sure there safe, don't let anyone drink and drive, EVER. If you can, try to keep friends who have been drinking from doing anything dangerous, such as trying to walk home at night alone or starting a fight.

Try to remember all the fun stuff you can do with your time instead of drinking. You can play sports, go out with your friends, learn new hobbies, work to earn extra spending money, go shopping, see movies, and dance, just to name a few. You can enjoy your teen years without alcohol. And alcohol can take a lot of the enjoyment out of your teen years and your life to come.


 

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