In a Flash :-
The legal drinking age throughout the United Kingdom is 18.
According to the Health & Social Care Information Centre, 43% of 11-15 year olds students have tried alcohol.
Binge drinking is defined in the UK as being when more than double the daily limit of alcohol (8 or more units for men 6 or more units for women) is consumed in one session.
When large amounts of alcohol are consumed in a short period of time, alcohol poisoning can result.
Addiction can occur when a person needs to drink more and more in order to get the same feelings and feel like they need to drink to get through the day or feel normal.
Addiction means a person has no control over whether he or she uses a drug or drinks. Addiction can be physical, psychological, or both.
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Deciding whether to drink is a personal decision that we each eventually have to make.
What Is Alcohol?
Alcohol is created when grains, fruits, or vegetables are fermented. Fermentation is a process that uses yeast or bacteria to change the sugars in the food into alcohol. Fermentation is used to produce many necessary items — everything from cheese to medications. Alcohol has different forms and can be used as a cleaner, an antiseptic, or a sedative.
So if alcohol is a natural product, why do teens need to be concerned about drinking it? When people drink alcohol, it's absorbed into their bloodstream. From there, it affects the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), which controls virtually all body functions. Because experts now know that the human brain is still developing during our teens, scientists are researching the effects drinking alcohol can have on the teen brain.
How Does It Affect the Body?
Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows the function of the central nervous system. Alcohol actually blocks some of the messages trying to get to the brain. This alters a person's perceptions, emotions, movement, vision, and hearing.
In very small amounts, alcohol can help a person feel more relaxed or less anxious. More alcohol causes greater changes in the brain, resulting in intoxication. People who have overused alcohol may stagger, lose their coordination, and slur their speech. They will probably be confused and disoriented. Depending on the person, intoxication can make someone very friendly and talkative or very aggressive and angry. Reaction times are slowed dramatically — which is why people are told not to drink and drive. People who are intoxicated may think they're moving properly when they're not. They may act totally out of character.
When large amounts of alcohol are consumed in a short period of time, alcohol poisoning can result. Alcohol poisoning is exactly what it sounds like — the body has become poisoned by large amounts of alcohol. Violent vomiting is usually the first symptom of alcohol poisoning. Extreme sleepiness, unconsciousness, difficulty breathing, dangerously low blood sugar, seizures, and even death may result.
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Why Do Teens Drink?
Experimentation with alcohol during the teen years is common. Some reasons that teens use alcohol and other drugs are:
• To feel good, reduce stress, and relax
• To fit in
• To feel older
From a very young age, kids see advertising messages showing beautiful people enjoying life — and alcohol. And because many parents and other adults use alcohol socially — having beer or wine with dinner, for example — alcohol seems harmless to many teens.
Why Shouldn't I Drink?
Although it's illegal to buy alcohol in the UK until the age of 18, many teens can get access to it. It's therefore up to you to make a decision about drinking. In addition to the possibility of becoming addicted, there are some downsides to drinking:
The punishment is severe. Teens who drink put themselves at risk for obvious problems with the law (it's illegal; you can get arrested or fined). Teens that drink are also more likely to get into fights and commit crimes than those who don't.
People who drink regularly also often have problems with school. Drinking can damage a student's ability to study well and get decent grades, as well as affect sports performance (the coordination thing).
You can look really stupid. The impression is that drinking is cool, but the nervous system changes that come from drinking alcohol can make people do stupid or embarrassing things, like throwing up or peeing on themselves. Drinking also gives people bad breath, and no one enjoys a hangover.
Alcohol puts your health at risk. Teens that drink are more likely to be sexually active and to have unsafe, unprotected sex. Resulting pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases can change — or even end — lives. The risk of injuring yourself, maybe even fatally, is higher when you're under the influence, too. One half of all drowning deaths among teen guys are related to alcohol use. Use of alcohol greatly increases the chance that a teen will be involved in a car crash, homicide, or suicide.
Teen drinkers are more likely to get fat or have health problems, too. One study by the University of Washington found that people who regularly had five or more drinks in a row starting at age 13 were much more likely to be overweight or have high blood pressure by age 24 than their nondrinking peers. People who continue drinking heavily well into adulthood risk damaging their organs, such as the liver, heart, and brain.
Where can I get help?
If you think you have a drinking problem, get help as soon as possible. The best approach is to talk to an adult you trust. If you can't approach your parents, talk to your doctor or school counsellor. It can be hard for some people to talk to adults about these issues, but a supportive person in a position to help can refer students to a drug and alcohol counsellor for evaluation and treatment.
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What If I'm Concerned about Someone Else's drinking?
Sometimes people live in homes where a parent or other family member drinks too much. This may make you angry, scared, and depressed. Many people can't control their drinking without help. This doesn't mean that they love or care about you any less. Alcoholism is an illness that needs to be treated just like other illnesses.
People with drinking problems can't stop drinking until they are ready to admit they have a problem and get help. This can leave family members and loved ones feeling helpless. The good news is there are many places to turn for help: a supportive adult, such as your guidance counsellor, or a relative or older sibling will understand what you're going through.
If you have a friend who’s drinking concerns you, make sure he or she stays safe. Don't let your friend drink and drive, for example. If you can, try to keep friends who have been drinking from doing anything dangerous, such as trying to walk home at night alone or starting a fight. And protect yourself, too. Don't get in a car with someone who's been drinking, even if that person is your ride home. Ask a sober adult to drive you instead or call a cab.
Everyone makes decisions about whether to drink and how much — even adults. It's possible to enjoy a party or other event just as much, if not more so, when you don't drink. And with your central nervous system working as it's supposed to, you'll remember more about the great time you had!
What Is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking used to mean drinking heavily over several days. Now, however, the term refers to the heavy consumption of alcohol over a short period of time (just as binge eating means a specific period of uncontrolled overeating). Binge drinking is defined as drinking more than double the daily limit of alcohol (8 or more units for men 6 or more units for women) in one session.
Risks of Binge Drinking
Many people don't think about the negative side of drinking. Although they think about the possibility of getting drunk, they may not give much consideration to being hung-over or throwing up.
You may know from experience that excessive drinking can lead to difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, mood changes, and other problems that affect your day-to-day life. But binge drinking carries more serious and longer-lasting risks as well.
Alcohol poisoning is the most life-threatening consequence of binge drinking. When someone drinks too much and gets alcohol poisoning, it affects the body's involuntary reflexes — including breathing and the gag reflex. If the gag reflex isn't working properly, a person can choke to death on his or her vomit.
Other signs someone may have alcohol poisoning include:
• Extreme confusion
• Inability to be awakened
• Slow or irregular breathing
• Low body temperature
• Bluish or pale skin
If you think someone has alcohol poisoning, call 999 immediately.