Underage drinking is a serious issue that affects millions of teenagers in the United States of America every day. Alcohol consumption poses a significant risk to the health and well-being of those under 21 who participate. It is also illegal for individuals under age 21 to purchase or consume alcohol.
We are going to explore five underage drinking facts that can help parents, educators, other adults, and youth prevent youth alcohol use.
1. Health Risks in the Short and Long Term
Underage drinking can lead to serious health problems that affect youth both short-term and long-term. Alcohol has a more powerful health risk and effect on the youth than it does on adults.
Some short-term, immediate health risks that youth may encounter include:
- Injuries: Motor vehicle accidents, burns, or drownings
- Violence: Homicide, suicide, or assault
- Poisoning: Overuse or consumption can result in alcohol poisoning
In addition to short-term health risks, there are also long-term health risks from underage drinking, including:
- Cancer: Various types of cancer are related to alcohol usage, such as liver, colon, rectum, throat, or esophagus cancer
- Chronic Diseases: High blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease, stroke, or weakening of the immune system
- Brain Functionality: Memory loss, brain development, dementia, or poor school/job performance
- Mental Health: Anxiety, depression, or suicidal ideations
Consuming alcohol before the brain and other body organs have fully developed can have dangerous short and long-term effects.
2. Dangerous Behaviors
Underage drinking can result in youth engaging in dangerous behaviors that could affect their safety, growth, and development.
Some risky or dangerous behaviors that youth may engage in as a result of underage drinking are:
- Driving Under the Influence: Driving under the influence is dangerous for the driver, other people in the vehicle, and other drivers on the road. It also has legal ramifications.
- Unprotected Sex: Unprotected sex can lead to pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.
- Physical Altercations: Physical altercations could include violence or physical fights, which can then lead to legal trouble or accusations.
Not engaging in underage drinking significantly reduces the risk of putting yourself in dangerous situations where you cannot think or function properly.
3. Poor Academic Performance
Did you know that underage drinking is also linked to poor academic performance? Young people who engage in underage drinking are more likely to miss school, perform poorly on tests (including standardized tests), and obtain lower grades. This can affect your potential for going to college, trade school, the military, or getting hired for a job.
4. Negative Effect on Relationships
The negative effects of underage drinking extend beyond your personal health and school performance. They can also have a negative effect on your social life and relationships.
Underage drinking not only leads to physical altercations as mentioned before, but also a lack of participation in youth activities too.
Relationships with peers and family members can also be negatively affected by using alcohol as it can cause more arguments, disagreements, and anger with others.
5. Bridge to Other Substances or Binge Drinking
Underage drinking can also become a bridge for youth to begin using other drugs. While under the influence, they may be more willing to try other substances.
In addition to the potential of using other substances, underage drinking can also lead to binge drinking. Even though youth may not drink as often as adults, when they consume alcohol, they tend to consume a lot more of it.
How We Help the Youth
Underage drinking is a serious issue that affects millions of young people in the United States daily. Our goal is to provide accurate information and educate adults and youth on making safe and healthy choices that can have a positive, lasting impact.
Our team focuses on youth health education for substance use as well as teen substance abuse prevention education. We offer a variety of services and programs that are centralized on helping teenagers with substance use.
In addition, we have a 24/7 Crisis Line, so if you need immediate assistance, we can be there to help!
If you are located in Montgomery County, Maryland, and have any concerns about yourself or a youth you know, contact us today so we can help answer your questions!