New drugs come onto the market every year. Young people are more aware of this than adults. Through the internet and the latest films, they are seduced by the newest, coolest and most extreme drugs. Despite the ‘Tsunami’ of new drugs, alcohol continues to cause the most problems among young people. Alcohol remains the leader when it comes to causing the biggest problems. Alcohol is a narcotic and is often used as a ‘sedative’ for risky behavior or stimulants.
Alcohol, addiction and cyberspace
Research from Erasmus University Rotterdam concluded that gaming addiction is increasing. The research also showed that the more and longer a young person is online, the more likely they are to engage in risky behavior, binge drinking and drug use. This is firstly a result of copying behavior of what young people see online. The second adverse effect is that alcohol temporarily calms the brain. When young people discover this pattern in themselves, they start to self-medicate, so to speak. In fact, one has already become dependent. To break this, as parents you must first establish clear rules regarding computer use. Then professional help is needed.
Tip: Check what your child is doing on the computer and that he or she is not gaming for more than two hours at a time. If you are concerned and your child has a computer in the room, make arrangements not to keep the computer in the room.
Tip: As a parent, engage in (sports) activities together without consuming alcohol. This shows that you can have fun without alcohol.
Social consequences of alcohol addiction
In addition to the consequences for mental and physical health, alcohol abuse and addiction also have social consequences. Excessive alcohol consumption affects important parts of the brain, causing work and learning performance to deteriorate. Young people are often difficult to convince of the consequences because they have not yet experienced any problems. Only when they really get into trouble themselves do they start to adjust their drinking behavior, but they don’t think about stopping.
Health problems after the age of thirty
It is only after the age of thirty that heavy drinkers start to notice the consequences. You have to think of being late for work, lack of fitness, forgetfulness, concentration problems, marital problems, money problems, arguments, traffic violations, accidents, and the list could go on. It is therefore important to prohibit drinking alcohol for as long as possible and to start drinking as late as possible. Only young people can use alcohol safely and sensibly.
Prevent stress from alcohol addiction
Young people who start drinking early soon start drinking more regularly. Some young people are more vulnerable to this than others and stress plays an important role in this. The more problems, the greater the chance of (excessive) alcohol use. The risk of addiction therefore increases. Clinical studies in adults show a clear link between stress and addiction. Emotional events such as conflict or loss of an important relationship, as well as physical stressors such as food or sleep deprivation, can lead to alcohol use. It appears that stress also enhances the rewarding effect of alcohol. Young people may be more sensitive to these effects of stress.
Help with alcohol addiction
As a parent you may think ‘that won’t happen to me’. Most parents also happily escape the vortex of addiction. Once you’re in it, it’s not easy to get out. Addiction drags and pulls until it has destroyed everything in its environment. It is a tough fight to break free from the vortex of addiction. So do everything you can to ask for help as early as possible if you notice strange behavior in your child. You cannot always prevent your child’s alcohol use or addiction. You can go to most addiction care institutions for questions and help if your son or daughter does not (yet) want help.
The alcohol content in Shandy was initially 0.1 percent but is now 0.5 percent. Shandy was once developed by an alcoholic doctor. He has devised a medicine for himself to get rid of his alcohol consumption. Then a friend of his had the business sense to bring the drink to the market. That has now become what we now know as the Shandy.
Handbook for parents
The book ‘Our children and alcohol’ is an educational book for parents, teachers and anyone who works with teenagers. The authors of the book, including Dr. Nico van der Lely, meet young people every week in their alcohol outpatient clinic in Delft hospital. The book provides insight into what alcohol does to the brain and provides practical guidelines to prevent or restrict excessive alcohol use in young people.