Some teenagers think they look ‘cool’ or grown up if they drink. Unfortunately, most teens don’t drink one or two drinks; they tend to drink to excess. The effects of under-age drinking on teens are varied but none of them are good.
One of the worst effects of under-age drinking is the fact that over 5,000 teens die each year, either from directly drinking or the effects of others drinking. This could be automobile crashes, suicides while drinking, or homicides. Of course, when under-age drinking occurs, teens aren’t always the only ones affected. When there is an automobile accident caused by under-age drinking, there are invariably innocents killed as well.
Most of those accidents are due to the fact that young teens are more susceptible to having their driving skills impaired by the alcohol. Teens that choose to drink and drive, particularly those between 16 and 20, are twice as likely to be involved in an alcohol-related accident as those 21 years or older.
Another effect of under-age drinking on teens is the possible brain damage which occurs. Those teens that choose to drink heavily may experience long-lasting damage to their intellectual abilities. They are also more likely to develop an alcohol addiction than teens that don’t drink. For each year that a teen delays taking their first alcoholic drink, the likelihood they’ll develop an alcohol dependency goes down by 14 percent.
Alcohol also affects a teenager’s ability to think rationally. They are more susceptible to making poor choices in areas other than under-age drinking. It is more likely that a teenager who drinks will also become sexually active. When under the influence of alcohol, under-age drinking teens may have unprotected sex or sex with perfect strangers.
Statistics have also shown an increased use of drugs among teens that drink alcohol. They may smoke marijuana, try huffing or using other inhalants, and are more apt to try narcotics. Under-age drinking may also lead teens to carry a weapon which could lead to accidental shootings or even homicides.
Most teens don’t realize that alcohol acts as a depressant. Teenagers who binge drink are more likely to attempt to commit suicide than those who don’t drink. In fact, binging teens are four times more likely to try. And those high school students who drink are twice as likely to have thought about suicide when compared to those who choose not to drink. Unfortunately it is estimated that up to 300 teens per year commit suicide when alcohol interacts with stress or those students being depressed.
These effects of under-age drinking on teens are obviously not the only ones parents should be aware of. Under-age drinkers also tend to do poorly in school; many become social outcasts. As a parent of a teenager, you’ll want to pay attention to any changes in your teen’s behavior. Talk to them and help them recognize the dangers of under-age drinking.