Underage drinking refers to any consumption of alcohol done by a person who is under the legal age. Since the legal age for drinking in the United States is 21 years, any drinking done by a person below that age is deemed illegal and has consequences.
Dangers of Underage Drinking
Some of the legal implications of underage drinking include jail time, community service, fines, and suspended license. Apart from legal problems, there are also other ways teen drinking can take its toll on a person. Some of those ways are by posing a danger to one’s health, relationships, and future.
Available underage drinking statistics reveal that alcohol is the most abused substance among young people in the United States, with teenage drinking accounting for over 4,300 deaths yearly among underage drinkers. As further proof that teens and alcohol do not mix well, surveys in teenage drinking articles unveil that most young people who partake in under age drinking do not only endanger themselves but also jeopardize other people’s safety. According to a 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey among high school students by the CDC, 6% drove after drinking while 17% rode with a driver who had been drinking.
Young people also seem to consume more alcohol at one time than adults. This is probably because underage drinkers often aim to get drunk. But whatever the reason, young people binge drink. For males, binge drinking would involve taking five or more drinks within two hours, while for females, it would involve consuming four or more drinks within the same time frame. Consuming copious amounts of alcohol in a short time frame is dangerous as it can lead to alcohol poisoning. In severe cases alcohol poisoning treatment at hospital is recommended.
Fortunately, the effects of underage drinking can be nipped in the bud if you immediately seek help once you notice you or a loved one might have a drinking problem.
Signs of Underage Drinking
While available teenage drinking facts provide a bleak outlook of the situation, there are always some signs to watch out for. Because loved ones, family members, friends, and teachers are usually the first people to notice these signs, they should endeavor to seek help immediately instead of waiting for the drinking problem to resolve itself.
Some warning signs of underage drinking are:
- Academic or Behavioral Problems: Underage drinking facts reveal that underage drinkers might skip school, ignore assignments, and disrupt classes. Behavioral problems might be caused by constant mood swings.
- Memory Loss: Experiencing difficulty with recalling events is not peculiar to long term alcoholics. Memory loss is a common side effect of heavy drinking. In fact, the brain of young people can be severely affected by early alcohol use because their brain is still being developed.
- Inability to Concentrate: One of the immediate physical manifestations of alcohol is lack of concentration. While under the influence of alcohol, people usually find it difficult to focus and are easily distracted. If a young person who is handling house chores or schoolwork is unable to concentrate, it might be a sign.
- Lack of interest in Hobbies: Young people tend to lead an active life, with a marked interest in sports and other activities. These extracurricular activities usually keep them occupied and happy. However, if a young person starts using alcohol, they might ignore these other activities in favor of drinking to satisfy their craving.
- Drunkenness: A person who is drunk might exhibit symptoms like slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, flushed face, difficulty with concentration and coordination, and strong odor. If these symptoms are present in a young person, they might be drunk.
- Secretiveness: In order to protect themselves, young people who use alcohol might try to hide their activities and movements from loved ones. They might refuse to divulge information on where they’re going, with whom, and how long they’d be spending. Withholding information about their whereabouts might be a sign that they’re hanging with the wrong crowd and are involved in illegal drinking.
Consequences of Teen Drinking
There are long and short term consequences of underage drinking. Unfortunately, the effects of teens drinking alcohol might not manifest instantly but would rather show up at a later date. Some of the negative consequences experienced by teenage drunks are:
- Problems with the Law
- Physical and sexual assault
- Memory problems
- Abuse of other substances
- Social issues
- Problems with school
- Increased risk of homicide and suicide
- Death from alcohol poisoning
- Changes in the brain
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Accidents or injuries due to alcohol
- Teenage pregnancy
Apart from these effects, teen drunks who do not get help might develop more health issues as they get older. Cancer, respiratory infections, cardiovascular diseases, liver disease, and nerve damage are a few irreversible conditions that can be caused by long-term alcohol use.