Help Prevent Underage Drinking
Underage drinking is a problem in the U.S. Even though the legal drinking age in all 50 states is 21 years old, alcohol is still the most commonly abused drug among adolescents. On average, many minors begin drinking when they are around 13 years old.
Underage Drinking Is Only The Beginning
Young people who begin drinking at an early age are at risk for social, emotional and behavioral problems. These can include:
- Drinking and Driving
- Using Illegal Drugs
- Reduced Academic Achievement
- Skipping School
There are also physical problems that can occur as a result of underage drinking. Alcohol can kill newly developing brain cells, which leads to the reduced ability to form new memories.
It is also possible for teens that drink to engage in risky sexual behavior. This can lead to unwanted problems such as contracting an STD or getting pregnant.
Early use of alcohol also makes it more likely for substance abuse problems to develop in the future. One study found that children under the age of 15 who drink were four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who waited until they were 21 to start drinking.
So what can be done about this problem?
Strategies To Reduce Underage Drinking
There are laws in effect that prohibit underage drinking. Minimum drinking age laws make it tougher for minors to purchase and consume alcohol.
Zero tolerance laws are also hard on underage drinking. If a driver under the age of 21 is pulled over and found to have any alcohol in his/her system, they will be punished and experience the penalties of drunk driving.
But just because there are laws against underage drinking, it does not mean that they will always be followed. This is where parents and schools come in.
It is important for teenagers to learn about the consequences of drinking before they are legally able. Schools can teach about the effects and risks of alcohol and other substances. They can also enforce zero tolerance policies within the school.
Parents should also explain that drinking while underage is illegal, regardless of the circumstances. They should monitor their adolescent's activities to make sure that drinking laws are being obeyed.
Open and honest dialogue about drinking and peer pressure will prepare adolescents to make informed decisions about alcohol use.
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