Developmental Risk Factors For Underage Drinking Research Paper

Length: 5 pages Sources: 1+ Subject: Sports - Drugs Type: Research Paper Paper: #95752245 Related Topics: Developmental, Legal Drinking Age, Erik Erikson, Legal Briefs
Excerpt from Research Paper :

¶ … Drinking in Australia

Skeleton Brief

Trends in Underage Drinking

As children age the risk of alcohol use increases dramatically and by 16-years of age most have consumed alcohol within the last 30 days (Figure 1; Rowland et al., 2014).

Percentage of school-aged children in the state of Victoria who consumed alcohol within the last 30 days (adapted from Rowland et al., 2014).

Dangers of Underage Risky Drinking

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW, 2011) has defined risky drinking as the consumption of large amounts of alcohol within a short period of time (p. 75). The risks associated with risky drinking include damage to the gut and brain, cancer, psychological problems, physical injury, unsafe sex, illicit drug use, addiction, and legal problems.

Risk Factors

Pitkanen (2006) reviewed the research literature concerning risk factors for underage drinking and found that most fit into two categories: (1) Family and (2) socio-emotional (Table 1).

Table 1.

Risk factors for underage drinking (Pitkanen, 2006).

Category

Risk Factors

Family

Parental substance use disorder

Socio-economic status

Parental/family dysfunction

Domestic violence

Genetic predisposition

Socio-Emotional

Antisocial behavior

Impulsivity/poor emotional control

Poor academic performance

Social influences

Neighborhood characteristics

Stress

Conceptualizing the Problem

Human brains develop in important ways throughout childhood and during the first years of adulthood (AACAP, 2011). For example, the part of the brain responsible for generating instinct-driven, fear-based, aggressive behaviors (amygdala) matures earlier than the part of the brain responsible for controlling these behaviors in a socially responsible way (frontal...

...

This explains why parents have a hard time understanding teen tendencies to be impulsive, irrational, and engage in risky behaviors, since the adult frontal cortex is fully developed. Teenagers therefore react to the world in ways that seem foreign to parents.

During adolescence neuronal connections are being made and pruned, while the white matter is increasing in size, resulting in an increased risk of social and emotional problems, aggressive behavior, taking irrational risks, and physical injury (AACAP, 2011). Accordingly, the risk of alcohol use and abuse peaks during adolescence and early adulthood.

Unfortunately, habitual heavy alcohol use will result in significant changes in an adolescent's brain. The hippocampus and prefrontal cortex are both smaller in size, while the local integrity of the white matter is compromised in eight brain regions (Squeglia, Jacobus, & Tapert, 2009). The hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and white matter are critical for memory formation, modulating fear and aggression, and facilitating neuronal communications between different regions of the brain, respectively. The brains of adolescent heavy drinkers will therefore be developmentally delayed and remain prone to impulsive, irrational, and risky behaviors.

The formation of identity during adolescence is one of the most important tasks that a teenager must undertake, according to Erik Erikson (ACT for Youth, 2002). The coincident emergence of risk-taking behavior and identity exploration is probably linked, since experimenting with new social roles and increased autonomy is inherently risky (Brown et al., 2008, p. S296). When alcohol is involved, however, it can be very difficult to discriminate between contributions from alcohol or the family to the social development process.

Another major influence on adolescent social development is peers. The nature of this influence can be positive, negative, or both, but for most adolescents the importance of peers to identity exploration and behavioral choices cannot be overestimated (Brechwald & Prinstein, 2011). Common attributes associated with transitioning through adolescence is…

Sources Used in Documents:

References

AACAP. (2011). The teen brain: Behavior, problem solving, and decision making. Retrieved from http://www.aacap.org/App_Themes/AACAP/docs/facts_for_families/95_the_teen_brain_behavior_problem_solving_and_decision_making.pdf.

ACT for Youth. (2002). Research facts and findings: Identity formation in adolescence. Retrieved from http://www.actforyouth.net/resources/rf/rf_identityformation_1102.pdf.

AIHW. (2011). Young Australians: Their Health and Wellbeing 2011. Cat. no. PHE 140. Canberra: AIHW. Retrieved from http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=10737419259.

Brechwald, W.A. & Prinstein, M.J. (2011). Beyond homophily: A decade of advances in understanding peer influence processes. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21(1), 166-79.


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