It is becoming increasingly common for teens to start drinking in middle school or high school because of their friends and peers. Unfortunately, many of these teens can become addicted or move on to do other types of drugs when they begin drinking early.
To prevent alcohol from affecting their health or their social lives, teens should refrain from drinking at least until they have reached the legal age. Alcohol can become more than just a social or recreational drug; it can contribute to the social and mental health problems associated with addiction.
Teens who are considering drinking should learn the facts about underage alcohol consumption and educate themselves on the dangers it can bring.
1. Underage Drinkers are More Likely to Become Addicted
Studies have shown that teens that start drinking before age 15 are 5 times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after the legal age of 21. The earlier you begin drinking, the more likely you are to struggle with addiction problems later in life. Teens are more vulnerable to becoming dependent on alcohol because they have not fully matured yet and their brains are still developing.
2. Alcohol Can Have Fatal Consequences
Underage drinking can lead to risky behavior such as driving under the influence or making dangerous decisions. Currently, the 3 leading causes of death for 15 to 24 year-olds are automobile crashes, homicides and suicides with alcohol as a leading factor in all three. Teens that drink alcohol are three times more likely to hurt themselves through self-injury or suicide attempts than those that don't drink at all.
3. Drinking Can Lead to Trouble with the Law
Aside from its effects on teens, the fact remains that drinking alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal. Because of the many dangers associate with underage drinking, getting caught could lead to serious consequences. There are laws to punish minors who drink in all 50 states. If you get arrested for underage drinking you can face a number of criminal penalties including fines, a license suspension, probation or even jail time.
4. Alcohol Can Affect Your School Work
When teens begin drinking heavily it can have a negative effect on their academic performance. Alcohol use in young people can have significant neurological consequences because it damages the areas of the brain responsible for learning and memory, verbal skills and visual-spatial cognition. Drinkers are also 4-6 times more likely to cut class, have poor school work and drop out of high school.
5. Dangers of Assault at Parties
Teen drinking can lead to risky sexual behavior including unprotected, unintended or unwanted sex. Underage drinking increases the risk for sexual assault and alcohol-related date rape. If a victim is intoxicated, it becomes more difficult for her to guard against an attack. Alcohol can also reduce inhibitions and make it easier for someone to choose to sexually assault another person.
6. Binge Drinking and Alcohol Poisoning
Teens are often unaware of the dangers of alcohol poisoning when they become involved in binge drinking. Underage drinkers may try to drink as much as they can in a short amount of time or play drinking games that lead to rapid, heavy intoxication. Drinking a large volume of alcohol can lead to an overdose or alcohol poisoning. Inexperienced drinkers may be less able to identify the signs of alcohol poisoning such as confusion, stupor and irregular breathing. If teens do not recognize the symptoms of alcohol poisoning and quickly call a paramedic for their friends then it could have fatal consequences.