Posted on May 28, 2014 in Teen Drinking

Early Alcohol Use Puts Young People at Risk

Introducing alcohol to kids aged 18 and younger can be dangerous. In addition, contrary to what some parents may believe, allowing young people to consume alcohol does not provide any supposed benefits.

This is according to a recent study that cautions parents to keep alcohol away from their children as it can lead to struggles with alcoholism later in life. Some parents mistakenly believe that teaching a child the responsible approach to drinking will help them develop more cognitive abilities to manage their alcohol use. Unfortunately, that’s not how the brain works.

According to researchers, youths that drink prior to turning 18 had greater odds of becoming alcoholics. It doesn’t take much – a small amount of alcohol has an impact on the young brain, actually priming the brain to get more enjoyment from alcohol. Furthermore, females introduced to alcohol at a young age are at higher risk for later developing breast cancer and infertility.

Many doctors agree that no one should drink until age 25 or after, which is the age at which the brain has fully matured. Most doctors also believe that no one under the age of 16 should be given alcohol under any circumstance.

The World Health Organization said that the older a person is before taking their first drink, the less likely they are to develop full-blown drinking disorders later in life. On the psychological front, some health professionals believe that restricting drinking in youths will enhance their desire to drink and increase the appeal of alcohol, but that flies in the face of most research.

The rising tide of liver disease in the U.S. is pushing health officials to draw attention to underage drinking, hoping to stave off a generation of problem drinkers. The liver breaks down alcohol so it can be removed from the body, but frequent alcohol consumption damages the organ.  Drinkers often suffer from fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis and alcoholic cirrhosis.

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