Why do teens drink alcohol?

Legally, citizens within the United States are not allowed to consume alcohol until the age of 21. However, as most people already know, the majority of “minors” have already experimented with alcohol long before their 21st birthday. In fact, according to the National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse, almost 80 percent of high school students have at least tried alcohol.

As a result, alcohol consumption is an important topic to discuss with today’s youth. Deciding whether or not to drink is a personal decision that everyone must eventually make. The most important thing is to be informed and at least educated when it comes time to decide Yes or No.

Alcohol — The Basics

Alcohol is created when grains, fruits or vegetables are fermented. During the process of fermentation, yeast or bacteria alters the ingredients and the sugars traditionally found in food are transformed into alcohol.

When alcohol is consumed it enters the individual’s bloodstream and subsequently affects the central nervous system. Since alcohol is a depressant, it slows down the function of the central nervous system and actually blocks important messages being sent to the brain. Consequently, the perceptions, emotions, movement, vision and hearing is altered.

Scientists have concluded that alcohol consumption is especially harmful to teens because the human brain is still developing in adolescence.

Side Effects

If consumed in reasonable amounts, alcohol can help a personal feel more relaxed and less anxious and is why many consume it in the first place. However, when alcohol is consumed at a greater pace the changes in the brain result in intoxication. This can be done unintentionally, but often is the result of binge drinking.

Signs of an intoxicated individual include:

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Delayed reaction time
  • Difficulty walking
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slurred speech

People who are drunk often change their behavior as some become very friendly and chatty while others get aggressive or angry.

If alcohol is consumed in moderation a person will likely fall asleep and at worse, have a hangover the following morning. However, if consumed in large amounts, alcohol can have tragic consequences — even death.

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is essentially the equivalent to inhaling carbon monoxide or any other harmful type of poison. The body has become poisoned with large amounts of alcohol and if not immediately treated, the individual could die.

Signs of alcohol poisoning:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Intense vomiting
  • Low blood sugar
  • Low body temperature
  • Pale skin
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness (will not wake up)

NOTE: If you think someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning call 911 immediately! It’s much more important to save a life rather than fear punishment from parents or authorities for drinking alcohol underage.

Alcohol Among Teens

Alcohol is the most frequently used drug by teenagers in the United States. According to the MarinInstitute.org:

  • About half of junior high and senior high school students drink alcohol on a monthly basis, and 14 percent of teens have been intoxicated at least once in the past year
  • Nearly 8 percent of teens who drink say they drink at least five or more alcoholic drinks in a row (binge drink)
  • The younger a person is when they begin drinking, the more likely they are to develop a problem with alcohol
  • Each year, almost 2,000 people under the age of 21 years die in car crashes in which underage drinking is involved. Alcohol is involved in nearly half of all violent deaths involving teens.
  • More than three times the number of eighth-grade girls who drink heavily said they have attempted suicide compared to girls in that grade who do not drink
  • Teens who drink are more likely to engage in sexual activity, have unprotected sex, have sex with a stranger, or be the victim or perpetrator of a sexual assault
  • Excess alcohol use can cause or mask other emotional problems, like anxiety or depression. Drinking in excess can lead to the use of other drugs, like marijuana, cocaine, or heroin



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