Top-Rated Free Essay

Youth Binge Drinking

Topics: Drinking culture, Alcoholism, Alcohol abuse / Pages: 8 (1856 words) / Published: Sep 12th, 2013
When looking at the transition from youth into

Youth & Society

adulthood,

experimentation with drugs and alcohol is often accepted as a right of passage in many western Cultures. Alcohol consumption and in particular, binge-drinking amongst youth, seems to have increased with each generation. During the 21 Up series none of the film’s subjects discussed going through any phase of experimentation with alcohol. This omission seems to highlight how the pastime has become even more prevalent among todays youth. Though alcohol use or binge drinking does not come up as a topic, 21 Up’s Bruce Balden comes across as someone more interested in charitable pursuits than in participating in any kind of serious ‘party culture’. I identify in this way with Bruce, as I had a similar outlook on such matters when I was growing up. Since Bruce and I experienced youth culture in previous generations, this essay will argue that binge drinking plays a stronger role in contemporary youth’s transition into adulthood than it did for either of us. According to nearly all scholarly articles cited, binge-drinking is classified as drinking more than 5 drinks in one sitting, with the exception of one UK study (F. Morton & B Tighe, 2011) which stated that 8 drinks by males and 6 drinks by females in one sitting was classified as binge-drinking. For the sake of this essay, binge drinking will be determined as consuming at least 5 drinks or more in one sitting. Drinking alcohol in the context of socialization amongst youth is an important developmental stage in defining one’s identity on the road to adulthood. Chassin, Pitts & Prost (2002) state “substance use increases are associated with hallmarks of adolescent development such as individuation and autonomy from adults”. Though adolescent drinking is considered normative, the quantities that today’s youth are consuming has increased considerably, causing concern with related health and safety issues, and creating a moral panic amongst society because of it. The differing trajectories that lead youth to binge-drink compared to the likes of Bruce and myself in our journey into adulthood to not binge-drink are going to be examined. Single parent family, little contact with the absent parent, low nurturing in the home

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and socio-economic conditions were prevalent trajectories to binge drinking (Henderson, Holland, McGrellis, Shapre and Thomson, 2007). Social class has also been identified as one trajectory to binge-drinking. Youth from middle class backgrounds have more resources to access alcohol and have been proven to consume more alcohol than working class youth. However, the middles class youth are giving up binge drinking habits by their mid 20’s as their responsibility’s increase. The working class youth are not as prevalent, but those who are binge drinking are forming addictions to binge drinking, mainly due to lack of responsibilities or ‘something to do’ (Henderson et al, 2007). There is also strong evidence that personality trait can play a part in determining a youth’s trajectory into binge drinking during adolescence. Youths with low conventionality, anti-sociality and low internal orientation are vulnerable for long-term increase in frequent binge drinking during the transition into adulthood. If you consider that both Bruce and myself had elements of low conventionality in our up-bringing’s coming from single parent homes, with lack of contact from our fathers we both could have gone down the path of binge-drinking during the experimental stage of drinking alcohol, however, I also think this was counter-acted by high internal orientation. From a young age Bruce mentioned missionary work, and from my teens I was involved in voluntary work with the disabled. These pursuits not only gave us a stronger sense of purpose and self, they possibly kept us too busy to ‘get wasted’. Duniere questions whether Apted’s documentary 21UP shows that our In the case of Bruce, even Duniere characters are determined by the age of 7.

(2009) says “Bruce who said he wanted to be a missionary at age seven seems to have a caring and enduring humane nature”. Todays society of de-traditionalization has diminished the sense of contribution a youth can make towards the community, and in turn possibly pushing youth toward unhealthy social connections in search for that feeling of belonging. Youth binge drinking can be attributed in part to late modernization and the emergence of risk society. Beck (Draper, 1993 p. 641) defines risk society as manufactured risks by humans and declares that social relations have altered with the introduction of manufactured risks. Alcohol consumption, or excessive alcohol

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consumption is a manufactured risk in the form of binge drinking and can alter social relations in both areas of health and safety. The contemporary drinking landscapes on offer in todays youth pose more challenges compared to the landscapes of Bruce’s generation and mine. Coupled with this is the contradiction by government. Postmodern society encourages individualization, and ‘taking responsibility for one’s self’, and the government have been successful on issues of Public Health in creating this. The contradiction lies in the emerging and encouraged night-time economy where more pubs, clubs and restaurants are integral to a cities infrastructure. Hayward & Hobbs state (cited in Lindsay 2009 p. 373) “The social costs of alcohol are relegated to second place, as the UK government values the urban regeneration, the creation of jobs and the 17 billion pounds of taxation provided by the industry”. They also state (Lindsay et al, 2009) “that the economic shift from an economy based on production, such as declining manufacturing, to an economy based on consumption in inner-city venues has been enthusiastically supported and frequently underwritten by town planners and local government”. Clearly the alcohol industry is winning here. The transition from adolescence to adulthood in the context of binge drinking provides excellent opportunities for youth to experience ‘reflexive project of self’. Vast research, often through questionnaires, has revealed that many youths experience one or several ‘critical moments’ of extreme intoxication. These moments have forced them to look at themselves and their drinking habits and realize that they ‘lost control’. The word control is constantly surrounded by youth’s experiences of drinking either sensibly or not sensibly. Lindsay et al, (2009) says “Learning how to get the dose and the context right for themselves was an important and necessary reflexive skill”. Given that ‘drinking’ is a large part of Australian culture, many youths partake in drinking alcohol for purely social pursuits without any education of what is their limit, or what is ‘safe’. Adolescence are trying to assert their independence and their own identity and begin to branch out and separate from their families. Their tie to their peer groups and a sense of belonging with these peer groups is heightened. Henderson, Holland,

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McGrellis, Shapre and Thompson (2007, p. 112) say that belonging “implies connectedness and relationships with others, saying something about inclusion, acceptance and identity”. It is often through drinking in these social contexts that youths strengthen this sense of belonging through friendship groups, and also increase their social capital. It is also whilst doing this in these social contexts that intoxication beyond what is deemed healthy can jeopardize these social interactions and friendships, i.e. downward social mobility. Some of the risks associated with youth binge drinking are physical violence, becoming verbally aggressive, vomiting, slurred speech, not being able to ‘stand’, and unwanted sexual encounters, which could lead to sexually transmitted disease. Specific personality traits that have been linked to youth binge drinking are impulsivity, sensation seeking, anxiety sensitivity and depression proneness. Conrad, Castellano and Mackie (2008) have proven through their own research that if those personality traits can be diagnosed early, then intervention by way of education could in fact delay the onset of binge-drinking and drinking problems “possibly delaying the onset of heavy drinking until after a critical period of neurodevelopment when executive functions and reward responding mature”. Turrisi, Wiersma, & Hughes (2000) have found a positive correlation between teenage-mother conversation on the consequences of drinking too much alcohol, giving rise to the efficacy of parents educating children on ‘learning their limits, setting their own boundaries and following their own values’ (Linday, 2009 p.377). This could be particularly effective for youths who show impulsive or sensation seeking attitudes. In summary, there is no question that binge-drinking has increased considerably in todays generation of youth compared to the 70’s when Bruce Balden from 21!Up and the 80’s when I went through this experimental ‘stage’ of youth. There are many contributing factors leading to todays youth trajectory to binge drinking. The de-trad tionalization of conventionality and the government agenda’s on alcohol have encouraged a perspective of normalization from today’s youth and their attitudes to alcohol. Given the increase in associated health and safety risks involved with youth binge drinking, I believe there needs to be stronger education, not just across the

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board, but particularly targeting those who fall into the high-risk personality category to develop binge drinking tendency’s. These youth’s are the future of tomorrow, and their attitudes to alcohol will be passed on to their children, and so on and so on. pursuit of a functioning happy society to do what we can. If an increase in early education can make an impact then we owe it to ourselves in

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References Chassin, LPitts, S.C. & Prost, J. 2002, ‘Binge drinking trajectories from adolescence to emerging adulthood in a high-risk sample: Predictors and substance abuse outcomes.’ Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, vol. 70(1), February, pp. 67-78 Conrod, P. J, Castellanos, N, & Mackie, C, 2008, ‘Personality-targeted interventions delay the growth of adolescent drinking and binge drinking’. Psychology and Psychiatry, vol. 49 (2), pp.181-190 Duneier, M, 2009, ‘Michael Apted’s Up! series: Public sociology or fold psychology through film? Ethnography, vol.10 (3), pp.341-345 Draper, E, 1993, ‘Ulrick Beck “Risk society towards a new modernity’. Contemporary Sociology, Vol.22(5) pp. 641 Garry, J, & Lohan, M, 2011, ‘Mispredicting happiness across the adult lifespan: implications for the risky health behavior of young people.’ Springer Science+Business Media B.V., vol 12, pp. 41-49 Henderson, S, Holland, J, McGrellis, S, Shapre, S, & Thomson, R, 2007, Inventing Adulthoods, Sage, London. Lindsay, J, 2009, ‘Young Australian and the staging of intoxication and self control.” Journal of Youth Studies, vol. 12(4), August 2009, pp, 371-384 Morton, F, & Tighe, B, 2011, ‘Prevalence of, and factors influencing, binge drinking in young adult university under-graduate students.’ Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, vol 24, pp. 296 Schulenberg, J, Wadsworth, K. N., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G. & Johnston, L. D. 1996, ‘Adolescent risk factors for binge drinking during the transition to young Journal of Child

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adulthood: variable and pattern centered approaches to change.’ Developmental Psychology, vol.32 (4), pp.659-667 Turrisi, R, Wiersma, K, & Hughes, K, 2000, ‘Binge drinking related consequences in Collge students: role of drinking beliefs and mother-teen communications. Pyschology Of Addictive Behaviours, vol. 14(4) pp.341-355

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