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An Overview of The Issues for The Underage Drinking

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The SARA model which involves scanning, analysis, response, and assessment is an important problem solving tool in analysis and examining of problems or issues (Marquis, 2009). The scanning phase of the SARA model is concerned with identification of the major events and conditions associated with drinking, collection of relevant data, researching on the current ways of mitigating the problem and evaluating their effectiveness, and understanding why the problem in occurring. Underage drinking in colleges and universities is an eminent societal problem and needs quick response to bring to an end. Research indicates that youths between the ages of 12 years to 17 years are engaging in habits of excessive drinking in tertiary and higher learning institutions (MEADA, 2015).

The major cause of this excessive drinking is the social, physical and psychological changes that adolescents and young adult undergo. This makes them engage in experimental behaviors to experience different feelings. This is usually a period of great changes in an individual and makes youths eager to transition and start experiencing an independent life (Marquis, 2009). This feeling makes them engage in experimental behaviors usually due to peer pressure, stress, desire to experiment, desire for belongingness, and the need for adventure. Apart from these, adolescents are also affected by the need for independence, need for praise and the need to impress peers which influences them to drink more than is required. Studies indicate that underage alcoholism affects one’s cognitive development and makes one continue with the habit into the mid-twenties. The main part of the brain that is affected through drinking is the memory part involved in learning, the hippocampus. Research indicates that the hippocampus is usually reduced in adolescents who drink as compared to those who do not drink (MEADA, 2015). This, therefore, affects adolescents’ reasoning, learning capabilities, and other cognitive capabilities.

According to minimum legal drinking age (MLDA), the recommended legal age at which individuals are allowed to engage in drinking activities is 21 years (MEADA, 2015). This age was reached after consideration on the cognitive and social development of individuals in adolescence. Research indicates that 10.4 million youths between the ages of 12 to 20 drank more than a few sips in 2009. The same study indicated that by the age of 15 years, more than a half of teens countrywide engage in drinking activities. This trend increases with age and by 18 years more than 70% of youths are usually accustomed to the habit of drinking (MEADA, 2015). Although young people might lack money to engage in consistent drinking, they often drink excessively whenever they get money. This makes it a big risk to their lives, others’ lives, and property in general. Research also indicates that at least 5000 youths below the age of 21 years die each year due to alcohol related causes. The major causes of alcohol related deaths include car crashes, suicides, homicides, injuries due to falls, alcohol poisoning, drowning and burns (MEADA, 2015).

From yet another research, about 190,000 youths visited hospitals with emergency injuries related to alcohol. Drinking is also associated with impaired judgement which accelerates youths to engage in both dangerous and illegal habits (MEADA, 2015). Alcohol leads youths to engage in unprotected sex, abusing other hard drugs like cocaine and bhang, destroying property, and bullying and beating up other members of the society. In addition to this, alcohol makes on vulnerable to all kinds of assaults and robbery. Drunk youths are usually victims of sexual assault and theft cases (US department of Health and Humna Services, 2008).

The major signs that show that one is engaging in underage drinking include sudden change of friends, academic problems at school, behavioral issues in school, truancy, les interest in school activities, slurred speech, poor coordination of events and activities, concentration issues, alcoholic breath, and finding of alcoholic beverages amongst his or her personal belongings (MEADA, 2015). From research findings, most students engage in underage drinking because there is no one close to stop them from engaging in the vice, all other peers and friends are engaging in drinking, and prior drinking experience before joining higher learning institutions (Absolute Advicacy, 2014).

The major ways of preventing youth’s engagement in underage drinking is the formation of minimum drinking age laws (MLDA), reduction in the social and commercial availability of alcohol, increase in excise taxes to increase alcohol prices, parental monitoring of children during adolescence, provision of rulemaking and discipline, youth leadership programs, supervision by teachers and other non-drinking adults, engaging youths in family and community activities, use of interactive teaching techniques, use and emphasize of normative education and training, teaching and training youths on the dangers of engaging in alcohol and other drugs (Marquis, 2009).

Although these methods are trying to help the youths understand the dangers and consequences of engaging in alcoholic behaviors, there is still need to come up with better mechanisms of ensuring that the youths do not engage in drinking activities (Marquis, 2009). The strengths of these methods is that they educate the youths and enlighten them on the dangers and consequences of drinking. These methods are also good because they have a one on one approach which makes it effective on each individual. However, these methods have a number of setbacks which need to be addressed. These methods do not enforce the law, rules and regulations in a strict manner that will help to scare the youths from engaging in drinking activities. These methods are slow in effectively controlling drinking behaviors among youths (Absolute Advicacy, 2014). These methods do not have a far reaching impact on youths which is making the problem to recur over the years.

In order to effectively deal with the problem of underage drinking, the government should pass harsh laws that will require youths to be jailed in private youth prisons for underage drinking. This will help to serve as a good punishment for youths hence helping to control and prevent future engagement in drinking activities. The government should also step up its laws and ensure that zero tolerance and minimum age drinking laws are effectively enforced in schools and in the society in general (Marquis, 2009). Schools should also put in place better programs for tracking underage drinking students and ensure that they undergo effective punishment to stop them from engaging in the vice.

The problem of underage drinking is also recurring in the public because the youths desire to experiment new things (US department of Health and Humna Services, 2008). This makes the problem recur even after enforcement of strict laws and regulation covering drinking. Lack of follow-up initiatives from government officials and concerned departments also makes the problem recur due to lack of enforcement. In order to develop a deeper understanding of the problem, there is need to conduct a random survey among current college students and alumni to ascertain the main triggers of engagement in underage alcohol (Marquis, 2009). This will help the government and associated bodies to be in a better position for decision making on the best way forward.

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