Underage drinking is a serious public health problem. Alcohol is one of the most widely used substance of abuse among many youth, and drinking by young people poses enormous health and safety risks.
The consequences of underage drinking can affect everyone regardless of age or drinking status. We all feel the effects of the aggressive behavior, property damage, injuries, violence, and deaths that can result from underage drinking.
Some Facts About Underage Drinking
- Up to 40% of kids younger than 15 years who start drinking at this fragile age might become alcoholics at some point in the future.
- Almost 5.5 million people with ages between 12 and 20 years engaged in binge drinking at some point in their lives.
- According to some studies done in 2008, almost 40% of 10th graders and 50% of 12th graders drank alcohol in the last 30 days.
- One out of every 16 teenagers engages in binge drinking regularly.
- Approximately 1% of parents believe that their kid has engaged in binge drinking during his life.
Dangers of Underage Drinking
Teens drink less often than adults, but drink more per occasion. This can impair their judgment and put them and others at risk of physical harm and dangerous behavior.
In this article, we will like to consider 5 of the several negative effects that underage drinking can of on young people. They are :
Underage drivers are more susceptible than adults to the alcohol-induced impairment of driving skills. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 21-year-old minimum drinking age laws have reduced alcohol traffic fatalities by 13 percent and have saved an estimated 28,765 lives since 1975. Still, about 1155 persons under 21 die every year in car crashes involving underage drinking.
Furthermore, research shows that the majority of underage drinking related deaths are not only from road traffic accidents. Instead, they are due to other fatal accidents, including homicides, suicides, poisoning, burns, falls, and drownings.
2. Emergency room visits and hospitalization
In 2011, 189,000 persons under 21 visited emergency departments due to alcohol use. This represents 43% of all underage emergency departments visits due to drug abuse. In 2008, almost 40,000 youth ages 15-20 were admitted to hospitals due to alcohol problems. In most cases, the primary or secondary diagnosis was acute intoxication. One quarter of the patients also had experienced a physical injury due to a traffic accident, being assaulted, or getting into a fight.
3. Altered brain development
The human brain continues to develop into a person’s early 20’s. There is concerning evidence from small-scale human brain imaging studies that underage drinking can harm the developing brain. In the long term, heavy alcohol use by teens can alter the trajectory of brain development and cause lingering cognitive defects.
4. Reduced academic performance
There is a relationship between binge drinking and grades. A government study published in 2007 showed that approximately two-thirds of students with “mostly A’s” are non-drinkers, while nearly half of the students with “mostly D’s and F’s” report binge drinking.
5. Risky sex
Current teen drinkers are twice as likely to have sex as nondrinkers. Adolescents who drink are also more likely to engage in risky sex, like having sex with someone they don’t know or failing to use birth control.
Preventing Underage Drinking
Although you cannot force an adolescent to stay away from experimenting with alcohol, there are several ways to help prevent underage drinking.
First and foremost, you should talk to the child about the dangers of drinking. Have an open dialogue about peer pressure, the negative effects of alcohol, and the physical and emotional troubles caused by drinking.
Kids should also have a chance to discuss how they feel, as well as ask any questions they may have.
It’s important for adolescents to feel at ease when talking with a family member or loved one. This builds trust which serves as the foundation of a strong relationship.
Another way to keep a child from drinking is to encourage hobbies and activities. Find out their interests athletics, acting, musical instruments or volunteering and let them try some out.
After-school activities give kids an opportunity to meet new peers, stay busy and have fun doing something they enjoy.
This is also great opportunity for parents or other loved ones to become involved in the adolescent’s life and show support.