Underage Drinking Dangers
There is no “responsible use” of alcohol by minors. Not only does allowing minors to consume alcohol send a message that some laws are meant to be broken, but adolescent drinking may bring about a host of dangers and lifelong ramifications.
It is up to parents to address the issue and communicate the damaging harms that alcohol has on adolescence.
Short Term Health Consequences
Alcohol’s short term consequences become immediately apparent after use. Adolescents are even more susceptible to alcohol because their bodies have never processed this drug before and their body weight is smaller than an adult’s.
Adolescents who drink alcohol will quickly experience:
- Impaired motor coordination
- Slurred speech
- Decreased memory
- Decreased decision making control
- Slower brain activity
- Slow reaction time
- Lowered inhibitions
While an adult may experience brief relaxation in small doses, any quality of alcohol will have damaging effects on a child’s brain and overall health.
Long Term Health Consequences
Adolescence is critical to brain development and many recent studies show that the brain is not fully mature until the mid-twenties. As a result, the adolescent brain is very sensitive to alcohol and drugs, and addiction happens much faster.
Adolescents who drink before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21. An adolescent may become addicted to alcohol in as little as 6-18 months.
Youth that drink alcohol in their adolescence have shown elevated liver enzymes, indicating some degree of liver damage.
Drinking alcohol during puberty has shown to adversely affect the maturation of the reproductive system in youth.
Alcohol does more than affect the body; it’s been shown to directly influence a number of other high risk activities. Alcohol use often happens first and then other risks become exponentially more probable.
Increased Illicit Drug Use:
More than 67% of young people who start drinking before the age of 15 will try an illicit drug. Youth who drink alcohol are 22 times more likely to use marijuana and 50 times more likely to use cocaine than children who never drink.
Alcohol use by teens is a strong predictor of both sexual activity and unprotected sex. A survey of high school students found that 18 percent of females and 39 percent of males say it is acceptable for a boy to force sex if the girl is high or drunk.
Children who start drinking before age 15 are 12 times more likely to be injured while under the influence of alcohol and 10 times more likely to be in a fight after drinking, compared with those who wait until they are 21 to drink.
Student substance use precedes, and is a risk factor for, academic problems, such as lower grades, absenteeism and high dropout rates. Alcohol can interfere with a student’s ability to think, making learning and concentration more difficult and ultimately impeding academic performance. In fact, the more a student uses alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, the lower their grade point average is likely to be and the more likely they are to drop out of school.
When young people drink and get into a car, they tend to make poor decisions that impact their safety. Traffic crashes are the number one killer of teenagers and over one-third of teenager traffic deaths are alcohol-related.
*Information taken directly from the Anti-Drug Campaign.
Learn more about the dangers of alcohol, and all other drugs at DrugFree.Org
You can be held personally responsible and sued for anything that happens as a result of your giving alcohol, or knowingly allowing, minors to drink on your property. Many homeowners insurances do not cover damage or injury caused by underage drinking.
Missouri has strict laws against underage drinking. Providing alcohol to minors puts you and the minors at risk!
- It is illegal to purchase alcohol for a minor. Purchasers could face jail time and fines up to $1,000.
- It is illegal to host or knowingly allow underage drinking in your home. Your house is NOT a “safe place” for teens to drink.
- Providing alcohol to minors at your house puts the youth, your property and yourself at great risk.
- Social Host laws prohibit adults to sell or serve alcohol to those under the age of 21. Social Hosting is illegal in Missouri and adults could be charged up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine up to $500 PER MINOR drinking.
- It is illegal for anyone under 21 to possess or consume alcohol. Minors can be fined and subsequent violations are punishable by jail time.
- It is illegal for anyone to drink and drive with a BAC over 0.08.
- You can be sued for giving alcohol to minors, and you can be responsible for anything that happens as a result.
Alcohol use is very common in our society. Because it is sold and drank in so many places, we often forget how risky drinking can be for young people. Parents, please do not underestimate how dangerous alcohol is for teens. Alcohol kills more teens than all other illegal drugs combined.
- Underage drinking is a major problem among Northland youth.
- Missouri youth start using alcohol earlier than the national average.
- About 14% of Northland youth (6th -12th graders) report drinking alcohol in the last 30 days.
- The average Missouri youth start drinking alcohol by age 13.
- 32% of our kids think that it is “okay” to drink alcohol.
- 25% report that it poses little risk of harm.
- The majority of our kids (60%) believe that alcohol is really easy to get!