Alcohol is the leading substance of abuse among kids ages 12 to 20 years. In spite of the fact that underage drinking can be dangerous and is considered criminal behavior, this age group consumes 11 percent of the alcohol in our country today.
Common Reasons For Underage Drinking
Why do young people consume alcoholic beverages? There are many explanations, just as there are for why adults choose to drink.
Here are some of the most common reasons that young people decide to drink:
- To escape from problems in the home or at school
- To blunt the effects of mental health struggles, such as anxiety, depression, loneliness or poor self-esteem
- As a way to cope with social struggles
- To create a personal identity
- To overcome inhibitions and boost confidence
- To follow an example set by parents or because they have not received a strong message not to drink from mom and dad
Why Underage Drinking Matters
Some parents are hesitant to voice strong opinions about drinking if they started drinking early themselves or if they don’t view drinking as an issue worth drawing a line of contention over. And yet, the risks associated with underage drinking should be matters of concern to parents.
Kids who drink alcohol before age 21:
- Face greater risk of sexual activity
- Face greater risk of problems at school
- Are more apt to be involved in altercations or criminal activity; nearly 700,000 college students are victims of alcohol-driven violent assault each year
- Are more likely to use drugs
- Face a five times greater risk for alcoholism by age 21 (if they start before age 15)
Underage Drinking Is Life-Threatening
Nearly 5,000 adolescents die every year from causes related to underage drinking. Among the causes of death:
- 1,900 die in alcohol-related car crashes
- 1,600 are victims of homicide
- 300 commit suicide
Alcohol poisoning (overdose) is a real concern. Hundreds of young people and adults die from alcohol overdose each year, and thousands more need hospital attention. Young people often think that when they over-drink, the worst that can happen is that they will pass out. However, the amount of alcohol that causes a person to pass out is perilously close to the amount that can prove fatal. In addition, alcohol poisoning can lead to permanent brain impairment. The numbers of those seriously injured due to alcohol consumption are large and continue to grow at an alarming rate.
How Can We Prevent Underage Drinking?
Parents have more influence than they may believe on whether their children will decide to drink. When parents send a clear message that underage drinking is not okay, kids are less likely to drink. But parents alone cannot dissuade teens from drinking. There needs to be community-wide action too. Making alcohol less available and consistently enforcing the current laws against underage drinking are two necessary steps. Education about the dangers of underage drinking through school and community programs is also an important step.
If A Teen That You Love Is Struggling With Alcohol Abuse – Help Is Available – Call Us Now!