Today, however, we will be considering the link between alcoholic abuse in adolescents and personality by reflecting upon two of the major personality traits that researchers believe to be indicative of
Alcohol is the most commonly used substance among Australian adolescents. In 2001, the National Drug Strategy Household Survey reported that approximately two-thirds of 14-17 year-olds used alcohol, with almost one-fifth admitting that they consumed alcohol on a regular basis, while the Australian Temperament Project (ATP) revealed that some 25 percent of 13-14 year-olds had used alcohol within the previous month. The project also reported a serious increase in the amount of adolescents using alcohol, with 60 percent of 15-16 year-olds, and 85 percent of 17-18 year-olds, having consumed alcohol within the past month (Smart, Vassallo, Sanson, Richardson, Dussuyer et al.2003).
The misuse of alcohol among adolescents is an increasingly serious problem. Although it has been shown that many teenagers do not suffer from alcohol-related problems (Bonomo, Coffey, Wolfe, et al., 2001), there exists a large sub-group who engage in dangerous levels of drinking. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW 2003), for example, reported that approximately 35 percent of 14-17 year-olds, and 64 percent of 18-24 year-olds, consume high-risk levels of alcohol. The incidence of dangerous drinking patterns was even higher among Australia’s Indigenous youth (AIHW 2003).
Alcohol and Personality – Current Literature
An Australian survey (Shanahan amp. Hewit, 1999), which was conducted in order to discover the needs of a national alcohol campaign, reported that adolescents aged between 15-17 years identified the major influences in their use of alcohol as being: The desire to try new experiences (79%). the need to socialise with peers (77%). peer pressure (68%). a way of escaping from their problems (66%). and trying to dispel feelings of inadequacy/insecurity (66%). Other literature has also revealed similar results. Labouvie (1990) and Maggs (1997), for example, found that some adolescents used alcohol in relation to psychosocial adjustment and functioning. However, alcohol abuse and dependency usually results from a progressive development, which involves the dynamic interplay of a wide variety of influences spread over a long period of time.
The way in which personality affects this process has received widespread research and/or study, through which it has been shown that.
By the first grade, or earlier, children show temperament and behaviour traits that are powerful indicators of their inclination to use and abuse drugs in their teenage and adult years. Researchers have identified not only common childhood risk factors and behaviours that predict drug abuse potential but also protective factors that shield some children from influences to use drugs (Neil Swan, 1995).
A number of long-range studies, which traced 1,242 at-risk children over a twenty-year period, identified two important risk factors predicting future alcoholic abuse. These were, shyness – described as sitting alone, having few friends and not