“Many people use their youth to make their old age miserable.” – Anonymous

Youth is characterized by exuberance and gaiety. Throwing all caution to the wind, they are adventurous in nature and are typically curious about anything that arouse their interests. Their young minds are comparable to a sponge that absorbs practically anything it touches, and their restless spirits can become reckless and uninhibited if not properly guided and reined in.

Such are the traits of the youth that, without guidance, they can be easily corrupted or intoxicated. Scientists believe that the human brains continue to develop until the age of 21, that’s why teens are considered not just emotionally and psychologically vulnerable.

The effects of media in shaping public values is very significant, especially in terms of the youth who may easily emulate what they see, hear or read. The idea that “thin is in” as endorsed by celebrities and models in all forms of advertising to promote weight loss has resulted to unhealthy dieting. The celebrity diets and the images projected by movie stars have indirectly spawned cases of anorexia and bulimia. Constant exposure to advertisements depicting beautiful people enjoying life and alcohol may encourage young people to drink, without knowing its adverse effects on their health and academic life.

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are both eating disorders that affect most girls than boys. Girls are considered to be more figure-conscious which explains their desire to engage in different weight loss programs. Their obsession with physical beauty has led them to deprive their bodies of the nutrients they need to maintain health.

While anorexic people have an intense fear of being fat and would avoid eating at all cost due to their extreme desire to be very thin, people suffering from bulimia, on the other hand, would take in large amount of food and get rid of it quickly by inducing vomiting or with the use of laxatives.

People who develop eating disorders may also be suffering from anxiety disorder and depression. Without proper attention and treatment, emotional problems may become obsessive-compulsive disorder. They become withdrawn and develop social anxiety.

On the other hand, teens experimenting with alcohol is very common. Aside from the media, they see their parents and other adults enjoying alcohol occasionally or socially. Seeing them drink beer or wine during special dinners may appear to be harmless. Other reasons why young people are encouraged to drink may be out of curiosity, peer pressure and to be with the “in” crowd, the desire to feel like an adult, and for relaxation or leisure.

Though drinking alcohol moderately may have some positive health benefits such as longevity and healthier life, too much alcohol consumption can negate all these potential benefits which could lead to serious health conditions such as liver disease, heart attack, pancreatitis, and brain atrophy, among others.

Young people should understand that certain health conditions can be made worse by drinking any amount of alcohol. Those who have history of a hemorrhagic stroke, liver disease, pancreatic disease and those with evidence of pre-cancerous stages in the esophagus, larynx, pharynx, or mouth must never take any alcohol. Young people with a family history of alcoholism are at higher risk of becoming alcoholics themselves. Teens may not realize it but too much alcohol, like drug use, can develop into abuse and even addiction which may become a problem for them and those around them.

Adults have the responsibility to provide support and encouragement to the youth who may be veer away from the norms. It may take a lot of understanding to win over young people who are suffering from various emotional problems, anxiety disorder or drug situation. Consulting with health care professionals may help in the situation.

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