Alcohol in adolescence

This article is also available in Italian.

We frequently hear of this problem among younger people, unfortunately, the abuse of alcohol is increasing. Everyone has different tolerance levels and those that tolerate it well, are the people who consume in greater quantities.

What are the effects of alcohol in the human body:

  • Initially there is a pleasant feeling of tranquility and disinhibition.

  • When you exceed a certain limit usually appears headache.
  • Someone skip the initial phase of pleasurable sensation, to feel, after a violent initial redness, increased heart rate, excessive sweating, abdominal and cephalic discomfort.

Headache, nausea, gastro-intestinal disorders are sometimes so strong as to strictly limit the use of alcohol.

To those people who say they hold more alcohol really miss what we might call the alarm caused by physical discomfort. This pushes them to consume more alcohol to experience the sensation of pleasure.

But the brain in this way slowly begins to regard alcohol as an element necessary for its operation, creating form of addiction, such as to bring the teenager to drink always a little bit more, until he come gradually to alcoholism.

Brain damage, however, even if there are, are not observable in the young but they present with a lag. Generally correspond to a strong reduction of neurons especially in the frontal cortex, which deals with language and attention.

The evidence suggests that damage to the frontal cortex in childhood have as a consequence, in children, problems in following the social norms and moral.

The frontal cortex of preadolescents and adolescents is still immature, and this explains why some children have little sense of morality but are especially vulnerable to substance abuse leading to addiction.

Alcohol, like other addictive substances, are assumed to satisfy a feeling of pleasure. The teenager, due to immaturity of the frontal cortex, is more at risk because it is unable to control themselves and if it is addictive, it will be harder for him to get rid of that for an adult. Indeed, the 80% of young people who finish a program of detoxification (alcohol, nicotine, drugs or other) have a relapse within 6 months.

The abuse begins when you exceed a certain limit which is determined by the capacity of our liver to metabolize ethanol. The amount is variable, of course, depending on the person, but generally we are talking about 15 grams of ethanol, which in practice we can quantify in two glasses of wine, a small glass of brandy or a beer.

To prevent problems such as alcoholism or other forms of dependence we must always work on the education of children by focusing on autonomy, self-esteem, construction of intimate relationships, teach them how to best manage emotions, educating commitment and leading role.

A parent should always follow the child, trying to pick up when something is wrong when the boy behaves differently. It is surely detrimental to pass unnoticed some behaviors (such as child falls drunk) because we run the risk of passing those things as normal and lawful.

We should check the guys discreetly without being suffocating and breathing on his neck as the police. If they make use of substances is a good idea to do a medical check.

Avoid words or phrases that might make him feel guilty or phrases such as “If you stop, I’ll give you a car”.

Precaution should be taken off credit cards, cash or other forms of money at his disposal.

Ensure performance at school because the school is often put aside.

The parent should spend more time with the boy to talk, listen and understand without making him feel alone. The parent should not sit there passively, could become a jailer rather than being of real help.

You can find many other interesting information on this book written by Schiralli:


  • “Cercasi genitori disperatamente. Come aiutare i figli adolescenti a sconfiggere le dipendenze da droghe, cibo, alcool, internet…”, di Rosanna Schiralli, FrancoAngeli editore, 2004
  • “Le età della mente”, di A.Oliviero e A.Oliviero Ferraris, Editore Rizzoli, 2004

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