Youth 'high' on liquor craze

Tipsy teens

Cultural gap and regional differences are passe when it comes to the NewAge lifestyles youth adopt. Between Hyderabad and Chandigarh—the cities that traditionally have had varied ways of living—youngsters, especially teens, are getting hooked more and more to alcohol. The trend is so rampant that it strikes one right on the face.

The cities are second to just Delhi and Mumbai when it comes to the trend, a recent survey by the Assocham social development foundation has pointed out. The foundation had surveyed more than 2,000 teenagers between the age group of 15 and 19 across major cities in Mumbai, Goa, Kochi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Indore, Patna, Pune, Delhi, Chandigarh and Dehradun in 2010.

Teenagers are having their first drink at ages younger than ever before, the study found. One-third of the teenagers said they had a hard drink shot before they entered college. And the teens spent most of their pocket money on alcohol than on soft drinks, movie tickets and at cafe joints, the survey revealed.

Of the teenaged girls quizzed, 40 per cent said they had their first drink between 15 and 17 years of age and 16 per cent had their first shot before the age of 15. They mostly preferred flavoured hard drinks. The survey also revealed that 45 per cent class XII graders indulged in excessive drinking—this is a staggering 100 per cent  increase in 10 years.

Now the most worrying part. The damning trend, the survey inferred, was essentially a fallout of easy availability of money, liquor, divided families and absent parents. “There’s easy spending power and wide availability of brands to choose from,” D S Rawat, secretary-general of Assocham said.

The rising rate of stress and depression among teenagers was also a reason. Close to half the teenagers said their parents did not know where they went or what they did in their spare time.

Harsimran Kaur, an educational resource person, said, “It is a worrying trend. The genesis of the problem needs to be addressed. Parents have to be more communicative with their children on all matters including alcohol. At a stage, parents need to be friends of their kids. They need to spend qualitative time. Teenagers need to be kept involved in extracurricular activities. Their interest in pursuit of careers has to be generated and made exciting.”

More than 32 per cent of the teens said they drink when they are upset; 46 percent said they drink to “get high”, the foundation report said, adding teenagers saw drinking as a fun-thing to do and indulge themselves on occasions such as New Year, Valentine Day, birthdays and outdoor parties.

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