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Teenagers and Alcohol Abuse: What are the Risks?

There are many risks involved with underage drinking. Possibly the scariest is the lack of understanding about alcohol and what it does to the body. Underage drinkers have no concept of the damage drinking too much can have or even what constitutes “a drink”.

14 grams of pure alcohol is a standard drink: which is found in:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits

Alcohol is abused by adolescents more than cigarettes or marijuana. As the underage user gets older, they tend to consume more alcohol. Studies also show that boys seem to have a greater propensity for higher consumption than girls do. Some of the studies conducted show staggering results concerning underage drinking in the United States.

Did you know that according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:

  • In 2009, 10.4 million adolescents between the ages of 12-20 had consumed more than “just a few sips”.
  • By age 15, half of the teens asked had partaken in more than one alcoholic beverage.
  • By 18 years of age, that number was up to 70%
  • Teenaged drinkers typically drink less often, but more is consumed on each occasion, than adult drinkers.

The brain is still developing throughout the teen years. Long-lasting harm to thinking abilities caused by heavy drinking in teen years was proven by new research conducted on teens with alcohol disorders. Underage drinkers are enticed by drinking and snared in without grasping the reality left behind in the form of strained family relationships, suffering social relationships, and possible damaging effects upon their own health.

Risks of underage drinking:

teenagers and drugs

Teens who engage in alcohol abuse may be more likely to try other illicit substances.

  • Impaired judgment – Adolescents can make poor decisions when drinking, which can lead to risky behavior like drinking and driving, violence, or sexual activity.
  • Increased risk for physical/sexual assault– underage drinkers are more likely to perform or be the victim of a physical or sexual assault.
  • Brain development problems–Alcohol can affect brain development, and contribute to a range of problems.
  • Injuries – In 2008, more than 190,000 people under age 21 visited an emergency room for alcohol-related injuries alone.
  • Death –Alcohol-related car crashes, homicides, suicides, alcohol poisoning, and other injuries such as falls, burns, and drowning kill 5,000 people under age 21 each year.

Recognizing the signs of underage drinking:

  • Academic and/or behavioral issues at school
  • New groups of friends
  • Diminished interest in activities and/or appearance
  • Finding alcohol in their belongings or smelling alcohol on their breath
  • Speech slurred
  • Coordination problems
  • Problems with concentration and/or memory

1 million young people had 5 or more drinks on the same occasion on 5 or more days over the past month, according to The National Institute of Health. Keeping a vigilant eye out for abuse of any kind in an adolescent, has become a basic part of raising a responsible adult. Make sure your child is educated about the devastating effects alcohol can cause if abused.

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