Has your teen ever asked you if they can drink alcohol, even though they may not be 21 yet? Sometimes drinking as a teenager can seem like a rite of passage. Many people assume that it can’t possibly be harmful to teenagers because of their young age.
However, drinking underage is something that has serious consequences legally, physically and mentally. Underage drinking is an issue that no parent should take lightly.
To understand the full scope of what underage drinking could mean for your teen, let’s consider some of the truths behind it.
Let’s face the facts of underage drinking.
• Five times the number of people under 21 die each year from alcohol use than from all other illicit drug use combined
• Underage drinking is number one in prevalence and consequences for young adults and teenagers
• 11% of alcohol consumed nationwide is from underage drinking
• The tangible cost of underage drinking in Missouri is $458 million, with pain and suffering it costs $1.3 billion
Early alcohol use can lead to alcohol dependence.
• Youth can become addicted alcohol much faster than adults
• If an adult waits until the age of 21 to start drinking alcohol, addiction from problem drinking typically won’t develop for another 5 to 15 years
• A teenager can become addicted to alcohol in just 6 months
• Twenty percent of people in the U.S. experiencing alcohol dependence are between 12 and 17
Teen drinking is a recipe for disaster.
• Teens who use alcohol experience up to 10% reduction in overall brain size
• Alcohol plays a part in 40% of all academic problems and 28% of all school dropouts
• Youth who use alcohol are twice as likely to attempt suicide and misuse other drugs
• Alcohol is highly connected with other things like sexual assault, alcohol poisoning, and homicide.
While some of these facts are discouraging, be sure to let your teen know that underage drinking is not as common as it used to be.
• Compared to 15 to 10 years ago, there’s been a decrease in the use of alcohol in people under the age of 21 in the United States
• The majority of teens don’t drink
These facts are all important things to consider when you begin to talk to your teen about underage drinking. Informing them about the things that can happen as a result is extremely important.
It may just seem like one drink in the beginning, but at times one drink is all that it takes. Not only does your decision on talking with your teen and setting boundaries about drinking impact what may happen to them in the next few hours, but it also can impact them for years to come.