Adolescent Alcohol Abuse:
What Factors are Present?
Over the years, many researchers have dedicated their time and energy to study adolescent alcohol abuse. They have found that there are many factors that contribute to adolescent alcohol abuse. These factors are psychological, environmental, social, and cultural. Not all of these factors play a part in every adolescent who abuses alcohol, but one of these factors is usually present. Psychological disorders have been found in both American, and Taiwan adolescents who abuse alcohol. The health risks of adolescent alcohol abuse are great. Alcohol affects the physiology of a young person. It disrupts the genetics and hormonal balances that are critical in the early development of youngsters. Treatment of alcohol abuse is a great state of change and development. Many therapists, doctors and counselors are trying to incorporate new treatment ideas and methods into the traditional techniques that have been used for years now.
It is important to research the factors that contribute to adolescent alcohol abuse because if these factors are detected early, and an adolescent is put into a prevention program the likelihood that they will abuse alcohol will greatly decrease. Psychological Factors
According to the research, there have been many psychological problems found in adolescents who abuse alcohol. The majority of the research has been done in order to solve the question of whether or not these psychological factors are present before an adolescent abuses alcohol, or after the alcohol abuse has occurred. In the research done by Rhode, Lewinsohn, and Seeley (1996), they used a community sample of 1,507 adolescents between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. The adolescents were classified into the categories of abstainers, experimenters, social drinkers, problem drinkers, and abuse and/or dependent groups.
In this study, 373 subjects met the criteria for depression, 15 were bipolar, 93 suffered from manic core symptoms, and 124 had an anxiety disorder (Rhode et al., 1996). Furthermore, anxiety disorder and depression were psychological disorders that were more prevalent in female adolescents with alcohol abuse than their male counterparts. Males who abused alcohol tended to suffer from antisocial personality disorder. It is believed that females who suffer from anxiety disorder or depression use alcohol as a self-medication to make them feel better. According to Clark, and Bukstein (1998), one form of antisocial disorder known as conduct disorder lead adolescents to act out and seek out new experiences. This is probably the reason why adolescent males with an antisocial disorder turn to alcohol abuse.
According to Rhode (et al., 1996), "More than 80% of adolescents with an alcohol use disorder had another psychiatric disorder...." (p. 106). In his study, the alcohol abuse tended to follow rather than proceed the psychiatric disorder. From this, it can be concluded that certain psychological disorders such as antisocial disorder, and depression are a factor in adolescent alcohol abuse. Environmental Factors
Many studies have focused on the environmental factors that adolescents are exposed to, and how these factors lead to alcohol abuse. The aim of a study performed by Clark, Lesnick, and Hegedus (1997), "Was to examine trauma history and other adverse life events in adolescents with alcohol dependence or abuse and to compare them with a sample of community-dwelling adolescents without alcohol use disorder" (p.1746). This study included 256 adolescents between the ages of fourteen and eighteen (Clark et al., 1997).
Adolescents who abused, or were dependent on alcohol reported more traumas then those in the control group. The types of abuse experienced by males and females tended to differ. Females experienced more sexual abuse, and males tended to be victims of violent acts. Both sexual abuse victims, and victims of violent acts...
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Chong, M.Y., Chan, K.W., & Cheng, A.T.A. (1999). Substance use disorders among adolescents in Taiwan: Prevalence, sociodemeographic correlates and psychiatric co-morbidity. Psychological Medicine, 26 (6), 1387-1396.
Clark, D., Lesnick, L., & Hegedus, A. (1997). Traumas and Other adverse life events in adolescents with alcohol
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