Although drinking alcohol is illegal for adolescents, there are adults who view underage drinking as “innocent, every kid tries it” behavior. Some adults even provide the alcohol. Since growing bodies are sensitive to the effects of alcohol, youth are at a much greater risk than adults for emotional and physical harm.
- Alcohol is linked to a high death rate among adolescents. Of all age groups, 15 to 24 years olds have an increasing death rate. The causes: car accidents, suicides, and homicides, most of which are drug or alcohol related, all of which are unnatural causes and preventable.
- Alcoholism in teens can develop very rapidly. It can develop within a matter of months after taking that first drink. In contrast, alcoholism usually takes 5-15 years to develop in adults.
- Teenagers are still developing physically. Adolescence is a period of rapid growth. The brain, nervous system, reproductive system and liver are still maturing. Their brain and muscle mass are incomplete and much more sensitive to chemicals and drugs. The younger a child starts using alcohol, the greater the chance of becoming an alcoholic.
- Teenagers are still developing emotionally. A young person is forming a sense of personal identity and is learning basic social skills. Alcohol disrupts this process by producing a chemical “high” that affects the process of learning how to deal with others, carry out responsibilities and handle problems. Problem drinkers cease maturing mentally, emotionally, or socially. They remain like children, even in adult bodies.
- Adolescents usually drink to get drunk. Kids do not drink socially, they drink to get “buzzed” or “wasted”. The teenage party focus is on drinking per se rather than on other activities. Most parties have little or no parental supervision. The emphasis is on “chug-a-lugs” and other drinking games.
- There is no known “safe” dose of alcohol for young people. Any alcohol in the body of a young person puts her/him at a higher risk for alcohol-related problems.
KIDS NEED AND WANT CLEAR GUIDELINES! IT IS IMPORTANT FOR PARENTS, SCHOOL, AND COMMUNITY TO SUPPORT A CLEAR, CONSISTENT “NO-USE” MESSAGE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE!