What are the consequences of underage drinking? This is a question many people have asked as this has become a growing problem in America. In recent years, there has been an increase in alcohol consumption among youth, and it’s alarming. The following blog post will be discussing some of the effects and consequences associated with underage drinking. But before that, let’s look at a few things why people drink underage.
Why do people drink underage?
Many people who drink underage do so because they are curious about the effects of drinking, feel pressure to conform to peers by drinking, or want to experience alcohol. This usually occurs around the middle school and high school years due to peer pressure. This age group is more likely than any other age group in America to commit violent crimes such as assault, rape, and homicide or property crimes such as burglary, theft, or arson. It is estimated that 86% of all violent crime arrests are committed by people under the age of 25.
Factors Contributing to Underage Drinking:
- Family Influence -Parents: One well-known factor associated with underage drinking is the influence of parents. A majority of teens surveyed suggest that parental attitudes and beliefs regarding alcohol influence their own decision to drink; those adolescents who have permissive parents are more likely to be involved in heavy episodic drinking as compared to those with stricter parents.
- Emotional Satisfaction from Drinking- Alcohol consumption has replaced drug consumption among adolescents because of the perception that it is less addictive and harmful. Adolescents also tend to drink in order to fit in with their peers, especially during peer pressure situations. In contrast, if a child feels happy and satisfied with other aspects of their life without drinking, they are unlikely to engage in underage drinking.
- Access to alcohol- Availability is a major factor when it comes to underage drinking. Since underage individuals are unable to purchase alcohol themselves, they depend on adults in their lives who are willing to buy for them. Binge drinking is more common among young people with easy access to alcohol because the binging behavior reduces the negative effects that alcohol might have on brain development and emotional stability.
- Taking Risks- Teens would be more likely to experiment with alcohol if their friends were experimenting with it, too. On the other hand, adolescents are less likely to engage in risky behaviors when peers are not engaging in those same activities. According to researchers, these results imply that peer pressure is a strong factor influencing underage drinking because teens are more willing to engage in risk-taking activities when their friends are present.
Consequences for an individual who drinks underage
- Alcohol Poisoning- Alcohol poisoning is the most serious consequence of underage drinking. Suppose an individual consumes too much alcohol in a short amount of time. In that case, they can experience dangerously low levels of body fluids and breathing problems, which can result in coma or even death.
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome- High levels of alcohol consumption during pregnancy can harm the developing fetus, leading to serious potential birth defects. Alcohol usage can even contribute to miscarriages and stillbirths.
- Poor School Performance- The development of the brain is related to judgment, reasoning, memory, and coordination; therefore, regular drinking at early ages can hinder neurological growth in adolescents.
- Binge Drinking- Binge drinking puts youth at risk for dangerous driving, physical fights, sexual assault, and accidents. When engaging in heavy episodic drinking events, teens are more likely to be involved in high-risk behaviors that can lead to injury or death.
- Suicide- There is a strong link between underage drinking and suicide. Teens who drink frequently are more likely to attempt or commit suicide because alcohol causes thinking problems, which causes a teen to lose track of the consequences of their actions.
- Physical violence- Studies show that underage drinkers are more likely than other young people to be involved in physical fights and assaults. These negative behaviors can lead to arrest, school suspension, or other serious effects where the individual may face legal charges or lose opportunities for college enrollment.
- Sexual abuse- Individuals under the age of 21 who drink alcohol are more likely than their peers to be sexually abused. Underage drinkers are also more likely to engage in unprotected sex, experience unplanned pregnancies, and contract sexually transmitted diseases.
Effects of alcoholism:
- Social effects- alcoholism can cause a person to lose their job, which leads to losing money and other people in the household. Drinking can bring about family issues as well because it takes away time that could be spent with them, and drinking also increases aggression and irritability, which will directly affect relationships within the home.
- Physical effects- drinking too much alcohol can have a number of negative effects on the body, both short-term and long-term. Some physical consequences can include stroke, seizures, brain damage, kidney disease, problems with fertility, lost sense of smell or taste, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels in your bloodstream, heart-related health problems such as irregular heartbeat, or heart failure.
- Mental effects- one of the most common psychological effects that can be attributed to alcohol addiction is blackouts, where the person will drink excessively to the point where they cannot remember what happened while under the influence. Drinking too much can also lead to alcoholic dementia, which causes severe brain damage and memory problems. Excessive drinking can cause depression or anxiety because if you are not drinking or doing what you want, it can cause you to go into a downward spiral. This is because alcohol acts as an escape from the pressures of life, which is why you might see someone drink excessively on days where they have experienced some type of failure or had a bad day.
- Societal effects- underage drinking can have a negative impact on the surrounding community as well as the individual. Excessive drinking causes accidents from drunk driving, homicides from violent outbursts, and other criminal activity. It is also common for those who are under the influence of alcohol to speak or act inappropriately because they lack inhibition.
How does alcohol affect a person’s brain and body?
Alcohol is a depressant that slows down the function of the central nervous system, which includes vital processes such as breathing, control of movement, and heart rate. The more alcohol consumed, the greater the effects on the brain and body. Alcohol begins to affect children just as it does adults because their bodies are not yet fully developed. This includes having less of an ability to break down and pass toxins from the body. Alcohol can hurt a growing brain and nervous system and hinder development.
How can you cure your addiction?
- Recognize the problem- you must acknowledge that alcohol is a problem in your life before it can be fixed. You might want to make a list of all the reasons why continuing down the path of addiction is not good for you and commit yourself to change these bad habits by writing out reasons why you are choosing sobriety over alcoholism.
Learn more: Signs You’re an Alcoholic
- Cut ties with the source- if your friends drink as well, you should stop hanging out with them those who support your addiction. It also might be a good idea to remove alcohol from the house to avoid temptation.
- Know that quitting is hard but doable- it can be difficult to break old habits and stay away from alcohol, but it is possible with lots of determination and time. You can keep yourself motivated by putting your reasons for sobriety in a place that you will see often.
- Find new activities- alcohol tends to lead to many bad decisions both when drinking and the morning after, so look for alternatives to drinking or do something productive in the morning to prevent you from drinking at all.
- Seek treatment if you are having trouble quitting drinking on your own; you may need to visit a therapist or rehab center that can help with recovery. There are many drug addicts’ treatment options for addicts who want to go sober like:
- Counseling and therapy
- Life coaching
- Behavioral therapy
- Family therapy
- Private Medical detox
- Support groups and more.
What is Failure to Launch?
Failure to launch is a program specially designed for youngsters who are addicted and have lost direction and hope in life. This program has been designed by our addiction expert at The Addictions Coach, Dr. Cali Estes, who thinks more of this as a syndrome that is common amongst the millennial generation. She and her team diligently guide the client to overcome failure to launch syndrome in an expedited manner while acknowledging that everyone responds differently to the process of change. Contact us to learn more. We will be happy to hear from you and help.
Being an underage drinker can affect you in ways that are not necessarily visible to others. It may cause your grades to slip, limit your time with friends and family, or lead to legal problems. You may also be more likely than adults to engage in risky behaviors like drinking and driving. There’s no need for teens to risk so much for so little fun- find out what else there is to do when it comes time for a good night out!