The Consequences of Underage Drinking: An Overview

Teenage Drinking: The Facts

 It is understandable that teenagers love to experience new things: getting their driver’s licenses, sweet 16 parties, prom, graduation, etc. It is another to try something that is the biggest problem with teenagers that leads to consequences such as accidents involving drinking, social problems, suspensions, low performance in school, and many other consequences most teenage would regret due to drinking underage. Teenage drinking is a serious thing in the United States and alcohol is the most-used drug among youth; more than any illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin.


Underage Drinking And Its Statistics

Underage drinking is defined as anyone who is under the age of 21 that drinks alcohol. It is a widespread problem that can cause consequences and affect families, friends, and communities. In the United States, teens ages 12-20 start drinking, which is at 11% of all American teens. Even though teenagers drink less than adults, 90% of teenage drinking is from binge drinking (having a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher).  As people know, teenage drinking can cause serious injuries. On average, 5,000 teenagers under 21 die every year from alcohol-related car crashes, homicides, suicides, alcohol poisoning, and other injuries such as falls, burns, and drowning caused by alcohol. In 2008, over 190,000 people under 12 visit an emergency room due to alcohol-related accidents, not just motor-vehicle accidents.

The statistics of 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students’ drinking patterns in 2013. Graph:


Consequences for Underage Drinking and Brain Function

Underage drinking can affect teenage physical, social, mental, and emotional development. People under 21 that are drinking are more likely to be sexually active without proper STD protection and birth control. Social and/or school problems may occur at a high risk such as a high rate of absence, failing grades, lack of participating in youth or class activities, and suspensions. Teenagers that drink may also have problems with the law, such as getting arrested for fighting or hurting someone while drunk. Underage drinking can influences other abuse of drugs going into the body (prescription drugs, illegal drugs, etc).  Alcohol can also affect the teenager’s brain development such as affecting the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that stores memories. When consuming alcohol, a person might not remember what he or she learned (ie, a name or a phone number). The person might experience a blackout, during which the drunk person can’t recall what happened the previous night. It can also affect the frontal lobes, which help with planning schedules, forming ideas, decision making, and having self control. When alcohol affects the frontal lobes, the drinker may have a lack of self control of his/her motions, which can lead to violence.


How Peer Pressure Affects Teenage Drinking

One of the biggest problems about teenage drinking is peer pressure. When it comes down to teenage drinking, peer pressure is the single and the most common cause of underage drinking. It comes in many forms, whether it is being handed a drink by a friend at a party or a football game, or being convinced to try it by others. For teenagers that have been persuaded to drink, they know the consequences for drinking, but as many people know, they might do it just to fit in. [However, some teens do not mind if they say no to the fact that they do not want to drink, but it could be for different reasons besides driving and costing someone else’s life. It could be that the teenager’s parents want them home at a certain time because of their bedtime] <<< clarify these sentences


Preventing Underage Drinking

The best way to prevent underage drinking is to not start drinking in the first place. However, if a teenager starts drinking and wants help, there are lots of strategies to help prevent underage drinking. Some school strategies include the development of personal, social, and resistance skills, teacher training and support, and active family and community involvement. Families can play a role in preventing underage drinking, and that includes strengthening of family bonding, involvement of child and parents, and development of skills. A study has shown that youth programs (sports, music, etc) are associated with many factors such as a decreased number of drug use, decreased numbers of  juvenile delinquency and violence, and decreased numbers of kids dropping out of school.

In conclusion, drinking underage is probably the last thing any teenager would even think about, even if any teenager gets pressured to do it. This is a part of responsibility and even if a teenage starts drinking, 90% of the time, the results is not a great thing. A person can be a teenager once, and wasting the time drinking, smoking, partying, or all of the above, may cost your life or someone else’s life.