Many teenagers believe that consuming alcohol is a normal behavior. However, underage consumption of alcohol can have a host of adverse effects on the minor. According to Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (2013) “annually about 4,7000 people under the age of 21 die from injuries involving underage drinking” (para. 2). The types of problems associated with minors consuming alcohol vary from immediate, short-term and long-term. Despite the different effects, minors consuming alcohol has adverse consequences on the minor’s life.
Adolescents tend to be more impulsive than adults (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, 2013). As a result, they are more likely to consume large quantities of alcohol. This behavior can lead to long-term physical damage to the individual’s body. In expanding on the problem on adolescent drinking, the Center For Disease Control & Prevention (2013) determined that adolescents drinking accounts for 90% of binge drinking. This behavior affects the individual’s immediate and long-term health. The Center For Disease Control & Prevention further concluded that adolescents consuming alcohol are more likely to be sexually assaulted or raped, engage in aggressive behavior, make poor choices such as driving under the influence and suffer memory problems. Furthermore, as the amount of alcohol the minor consumes increases, the more likely they are to be in an accident that could jeopardize their health and safety. However, it should be further noted that accidents are not confined to car accidents. Instead, adolescents are more likely to fall, accidently hurt themselves or engage in behaviors that could be harmful.
Adolescence is a period associated with physical, emotional and intellectual growth (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, 2013). However, adolescent alcohol usage can adversely affect this growth. Although many minors consider alcohol use as a normal part of life, alcohol use adversely affects the individual’s brain development. This is problematic, as long-term the individual cannot reserve the changes that occurred due to using alcohol as an adolescent. Adolescents using alcohol tend to do worse in school, be absent more often and be at a higher risk for depression (Center For Disease Control & Prevention, 2013). Furthermore, adolescents consuming alcohol are more likely to suffer memory problems. However, memory problems can be both short-term and long-term, depending on the amount of alcohol the adolescent consumes.
In addition to these short-term problems, adolescents consuming alcohol may experience legal problems. In order to consume or purchase alcohol, the individual needs to be of age. The legal age and conditions that are deemed appropriate for individuals to consume alcohol tend to vary by state. Regardless of the legal age in which an individual can consume alcohol, the emergence of legal problems may limit the opportunities available to the adolescent in the future (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, 2013).
Few adolescents consider the long-term problems associated with consuming alcohol. According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (2013) “adults who had first used alcohol before age 15 were more than seven times as likely to experience alcohol dependence or abuse as those who waited until 21 for their first drink” (para. 3). In this sense, the younger the individual is when they begin consuming alcohol the more likely they will grow up to become an alcoholic.
The long-term effects of alcohol use on minors range from memory problems, liver problems and suffer endocrine effects. According to the National Institute of Health (2006) consuming alcohol during adolescents can have a negative affect on the individual’s endocrine system and “upset the critical hormonal balance necessary for normal development of organs, muscles and bones” (p. 4). Although few adolescents think about the long-term effects consuming alcohol will have on their life, consuming alcohol during adolescents can produce long-term effects that affect both the quality and quantity of the individual’s life.
Alcohol is the most common used drug amongst adolescents (Center For Disease Control & Prevention, 2013). Despite the commonality of using alcohol, few adolescents think about the immediate, short-term and long-term consequences of their behaviors. Although the consequences tend to vary, the adverse affects can adversely affect the quality and quantity of life the individual’s life in the future.
- Alcohol Alert (2006) National Institute of Heath. Retrieved September 10, 2014 from: pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA67/AA67.htm
- Alcohol & Public Health (2013) Center For Disease Control & Prevention. Retrieved September 10, 2014 from: http://www.cdc.gov
- Negative Consequence of Underage Drinking (2013) Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved September 10, 2014 from: http://www.toosmarttostart.samhsa.gov/teens/facts/consequences.aspx