Why Some Teens are More prone to Binge Drinking
Recent research suggests that some teens may be more prone to binge drinking than others—but why? What is it that makes some teens more susceptible to binge drinking than others and what can parents do to prevent it?
Understanding that alcohol initiates that activation of the dopamine system in the brain which is responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward, the recent study has found that those who have the RASGRF2 gene are at an increased risk of abusing alcohol and may take part in more instances of binge drinking. This gene plays a crucial role in controlling the way that alcohol stimulates the brain and can trigger a greater desire in some to drink than it does in others.
Those who have a genetic variation of the RASGRF-2 gene feel a greater sense of reward or happiness when they drink than those who do not have this genetic strand which is why some teens are more prone to binge drinking than others. Unfortunately, this does little to tell parents what they can do to prevent this as genetics are one thing that parents have very little control over.
An estimated 60% of teens aged 13-15 report drinking at least occasionally with friends and in many cases drinking large volumes of alcohol at a time. Teenage alcohol abuse can lead to reduced brain development, health problems that linger well into the later years of life, risky behaviors such as unsafe sex and drunk driving and may lead to antisocial behaviors. These consequences are often not fully understood by teens and may even be completely overlooked by teens leaving them vulnerable to a world of shame, hurt and emotional upset when the realization of the real impact of alcohol abuse sets in for them.
Other Factors that Put Teens at Risk
While parents cannot control the genetic predisposition of their teens, some factors that put teens at risk of abusing alcohol can be controlled by parents. For instance, studies show that teens who grow up in a household that involves regular use of alcohol are more likely to believe that alcohol abuse is ok and therefore more likely to take part in binge drinking with friends. Parents can reduce this risk factor by not drinking in the home or not allowing children to see them drinking.
Teens who suffer from a mental health condition are also at risk of drinking, especially if the mental illness is not under control. Parents can make sure to directly deal with any mental illness that their teen may suffer from by taking then to the doctor, psychiatrist or similar mental health professional and monitoring their condition closely. Medications can be provided to reduce anxiety or depression or to control ADHD related behavioral problems which will reduce the risk of the teen using alcohol to mask the symptoms of his or her condition.
Parents can’t keep their teenagers in a bubble and can only do so much to protect them from the dangers of binge drinking but every little bit helps. Talking with teens about the dangers of binge drinking and of alcohol abuse can further help to reduce the risk of a teen abusing alcohol and suffering the subsequent consequences that come from drinking.