Teens use alcohol for a number of reasons. Peer pressure, experimentation, and the urge to fit in all play major roles in why you might choose to drink while underage.
In excess, alcohol can result in serious health problems in teenagers and adults alike. In the short term, alcohol can cause irritability, loss of physical coordination, unsteady gait, slurred speech, impaired short-term memory, slowed thinking, and even blackouts. Excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to more severe problems, including an irregular heartbeat, reduction in temperature (hypothermia), and seizures or coma caused by too little sugar in the body (hypoglycemia). Substance abuse can cause problems with schoolwork, problems at home, loss of friends, and long-lasting legal issues. Drug and alcohol abuse are also leading causes of death among teens, as they contribute to violence, suicide, vehicle crashes, and drowning. Many teens report a dangerous pattern of heavy, intermittent drinking, known as binge drinking, with the goal of becoming intoxicated.
As the use of alcohol among teens continues to grow, more and more youth change the way they perceive underage drinking. Many teens don’t feel that alcohol is a dangerous substance; furthermore, many parents share th ose feelings and supply their children with alcohol. While underage experimentation with alcohol is not a new concept, research shows significant changes in the pattern of teen drinking. More and more youth are trying alcohol at a younger age, and many drink alcohol regularly.
It’s important to understand that your drinking not only affects you but can have serious consequences on those around you. Research shows that one out of every 10 teenagers in high school drinks and drives. When impaired, you are more likely to swerve off the road, hitting a house or a person. You are also more likely to crash into another vehicle, injuring or killing yourself, the other driver, and/or your passengers. There are also serious legal consequences to drinking. Many states are now mandating laws that force jail time on first-time offenders. Before getting behind the wheel of the car after drinking, consider if jail time, court costs, attorney fees, loss of driving privileges, car impound and towing fees, and the numerous other consequences are worth it.
Even drinking to get drunk on occasion can have extreme ramifications. Drinking affects your judgment, making you more likely to engage in risky behavior. When impaired, you’re more likely to get injured or into an accident, have unsafe sex, which can lead to sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies, and get into fights with others. You are also more likely to get robbed or go home with a stranger, and you’re more likely to get into trouble with the police, resulting in a criminal record. Drinking very large amounts of alcohol can also result in acute alcohol poisoning, which in turn can cause unconsciousness, coma, and even death. Before picking up a drink, consider both the short-term and long-term problems and consequences that drinking alcohol can bring.
For many young people, trying alcohol is a normal part of growing up. Teens often rely on their parents, friends, and the media for cues on how to behave when it comes to drinking. While there will be no long-term effects for most young people who try alcohol, chronic problems and even addiction can occur in a small number of teenagers. This addiction can continue throughout adulthood, resulting in significant physical, emotional, and financial problems. Also, the earlier in life that a young person starts to drink, the higher their risk for alcohol-related problems later in life. Understanding alcohol abuse and its repercussions can help you make better decisions when it comes to choosing not to drink. Use this as a teen alcohol abuse resource.
Alcohol Education Resources for Teens
- Just for Teens
- Alcohol, Peer Pressure, Teenage Underage Drinking
- Underage Drinking: Myth vs. Facts [PDF]
- Straight Talk About Alcohol
- Alcohol Facts and Information for Teens
Health Effects of Alcohol on Teens
- Dangers of Teen Drinking
- Getting Wasted
- Short and Long Term Effects
- How Underage Drinking Affects a Teen’s Brain [PDF]
- For Teens: Alcohol
- Young People and Alcohol – What Are the Risks?
Teen Alcohol Abuse Statistics
- Underage Drinking Statistics
- Binge Drinking Statistics
- Health and Social Impacts of Underage Drinking
- Teen Drinking and Driving
- Underage Drinking and Alcohol Abuse
- Statistics on Underage Drinking
Teens and Drunk Driving
- Drink Driving and the Legal Alcohol Limit
- Driving Under the Influence
- Being a Friend
- Drinking and Driving – Facts for Teens [PDF]
- Teenage Driver Crash Statistics
- Drinking and Driving
Resources for Parents
- Talk to Your Child About Alcohol
- Talk to Teens About Alcohol [PDF]
- Preventing Adolescent Binge Drinking
- Teenage Drinking: A Guide for Parents