Underage Drinking: The Real Effects
Updated: Jan 14
By: Marisa, Contributing Writer
Teens are going to several parties where alcohol is being brought. Teens may be pressured to drink, or they may be tempted to try a drink. Some people will drink because they are trying to fit in with their friends. In the United States, the drinking age is 21 and 18 with parental consultation. Drinking can easily get out of hand and become a problem.
According to the CDC, 11% of all alcohol is consumed by 12 to 20-year-olds and consume more drinks during a drinking condition such as a Christmas party, Halloween party, or birthday party compared to adults. In 2013,119,000 emergency rooms were visited by children/teens from ages 12 to 21 for alcohol-related illness. Drinking causes more than 3,500 deaths among underage drinkers each year. According to a 2017 survey, in the last 30 minutes of taking the survey, 30% of high school students drank alcohol, 14% binge drinking, 6% drove after drinking alcohol, and 14% rode with a driver who drank alcohol.
Teen drinking can lead to many unfortunate consequences such as unwanted sexual activity, alcohol poisoning, fighting, failing classes, high risk for suicide, misuse of drugs, and stunting growth. Drinking can affect your brain and cause a lack of ability to retain information and affect your ability to complete homework. When you are drunk, you make poor decisions, which can lead to depression. Also, fighting can get you suspended or expelled from school or even get you in trouble with the police. Having a police record can affect your ability to get a job or get accepted into college.
Alcohol has several long-term health effects, such as high blood pressure, stroke, and liver disease. Also, drinking can cause breast cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer, esophagus cancer, liver cancer, and colon cancer. Alcohol can cause the immune system to weaken due to the diseases it causes. Next of all, alcohol can lead to memory problems and increase the risk of dementia. Memory problems can affect your ability in school. Abusive drinking can lead to unemployment, problems within family, and loss of family members. Drinking less often and drinking small amounts of alcohol can reduce these effects. In the United States, the drinking age is 21 to prevent these effects.
It’s important to remember that the brain is not fully developed during the teenage years, into 21, so alcohol has a severe effect on the brain. Both the prefrontal cortex and cerebral areas are thinner than children who did not drink. This could lead to having a hard time controlling impulses, remembering events, verbal learning, memory, and making healthy decisions. The hippocampus, which holds the memories in your brain, can be damaged due to alcohol, which can affect your ability to perform well in school.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are creating ways to prevent underage drinking. They are creating campaigns to educate the youth on the dangers of drinking. They are attempting to reduce youth exposure to alcohol advertising, which often tempts children to drink. Teen drinking is extremely dangerous and should be avoided by all teens. Drinking can lead to many negative consequences, and it’s important to wait until you are of age to drink alcohol.
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