The studies concerning teenage alcoholism are in and the results are shocking to most parents. According to the Centers for Disease Control 40% of ninth graders reported using alcohol before the age of thirteen and had used alcohol in the preceding month. The numbers are high and the effects can be devastating.

When a teen begins drinking at such an early age there can be long-term effects on his or her cognitive abilities. It also increases chance that they will suffer from teenage alcoholism. In another study published in the Journal of Substance abuse, 40% of people who started drinking before the age of thirteen will develop long-term alcohol abuse tendencies.

In order to help children avoid this kind of behavior it is important to know some of the reasons behind it.

Teenage alcoholism is a multifaceted situation with many causes and effects. Some common causes include but are not limited to the following:

Number of the peers they are in close contact with that use alcohol
> Number of adults close to them that use alcohol
> Amount of time left unsupervised
> Alcohol advertising that puts use in a positive light
> Depression
> Negative self image
> Lack of communication with parents and positive role models
> Lack of discipline by parents for broken rules

This is a sample list of the various contributors to teenage alcohol use. There are varied other situations that may also lead to alcohol abuse.

You may have noticed that I have not included the much-debated ‘genetic or hereditary’ link theory in the above list. I personally believe that such a link does exist and can be a contributory factor. However this is my opinion and the link has yet to be scientifically proved.

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Along with the abuse of alcohol come many potential side effects. In addition to the learning problems discussed above they are:

> Fatal car crashes involving teenagers and alcohol are twice the number of adult alcohol related accidents.

> Suicide, 37% of eighth grade girls who drank heavily reported at least one attempt at suicide compared to only 11% of non-drinking girls.

> Increased risky sexual behavior that can lead to harmful sexually transmitted diseases.

Alcoholism among young people is a problem that affects parents and society as a whole. In order to stem the rising numbers of teen alcohol users, parents will have to become involved. Watching closely the attitudes and habits of your teen will greatly increase the chances of you discovering alcohol use before it becomes abuse.</b>

Monitor the friends that they spend time with and make note of sudden changes in their peer group.

Send a clear message on how you feel about alcohol use and the rules of the house. Follow up breaking of those rules with punishment.

The bottom line is to remain an active participant in their life. Children whose parents are proactive report less instances of alcohol use or abuse.

The numbers are clear and show that this problem is a serious issue. A national survey revealed that nearly a third of teenagers had engaged in reckless use of alcohol on at least one occasion.