Everyone is doing it. You will look so cool. What could happen? I am responsible. I know what I am doing. These are the things we tell ourselves as teenagers. We can handle underage drinking. We are adults. In 2011, 189,00 individuals under the age of 21 were admitted to the emergency department due to alcohol use. Risks go beyond the effects of alcohol itself. Impaired judgment and lack of coordination lead to fights, assaults and traffic accidents.
As teenagers, we usually only focus on what we perceive as the benefits of a given action. Other than the potential trouble of getting caught, other consequences seem like a reality that only happens to others. The risks are real. Not only do you have an increased risk of academic failure, but you increase your risk of suicide, homicide, and death from alcohol poisoning.
Underage drinking usually plays a part in risky sexual behavior. Unwanted, unintended and unprotected sex occur when under the influence. You aren’t thinking clearly and not in good control of your body. These risky sexual activities lead to unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
Your brain is still developing and maturing into your mid to late twenties. That is why you are able to learn so much so quickly. Underage drinking can alter this brain development resulting in consequences that go beyond your teenage years.
Underage drinking can lead to alcohol use disorder later on in life. Developing heavy drinking habits young, make alcohol abuse and dependency as an adult more likely. Life-long alcohol abuse leads to all sorts of medical problems.
Although teenagers tend to drink less often than adults, they tend to consume more when they do drink. Most teens consume alcohol by binge drinking. This means consuming four to five or more alcoholic drinks on the same occasion, within a few hours. Underage drinking statistics actually say that 5.3 million young people have taken part in binge drinking at least once in the past month.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that from 2006-2010, alcohol contributed to the death of 4,358 individuals under the age of 21. That number includes homicides, suicides, alcohol poisoning, falls, burns, drowning and traffic accidents. Alcohol could kill you.
Do not become a statistic. Resist peer pressure. Find other enjoyable ways to entertain yourself and reduce stress. If you are interested in sports, make that your focus. Alcohol can really interfere with an athlete’s performance. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and bond with friends. Seek out friends that enjoy the things you do and do not pressure you to do things you would rather not.
Remember, there are people out there you can talk to, but it might require some action on your part. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your parents, seek out a counselor. Develop a strategy for saying no. Script and practice your best; so you can deliver it with confidence if and when the time comes. Always remember that you have a choice. Avoid situations where temptation lingers and know your stance.