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Underage Drinking: How It Affects Your Body, Mind, & Decisions

It seems like everybody’s drinking underage these days. Teens get together on weekends at a friends house while their parents are gone, an older friend or sibling brings some alcohol, and they throw themselves a little party. That’s what all the cool kids do, right? Why should we have to wait to drink til we’re 21, what’s the big deal?

Your body and brain aren’t fully developed yet, and alcohol can seriously affect you. That’s the big deal.

Studies show that about 26% of youth between 12-20 drink regularly. As teens get older, they are more likely to start drinking. Even though drinking seems like a cool, fun social thing to do, think about the consequences. You could:

  • Get arrested: Getting an MIP is something that would go on your record. You could have to pay a fine, do community service, and/or spend some time in jail. Plus, you don’t want to have to tell future employers that you’ve been arrested.
  • Get suspended from school: Even if you’re drinking on your own time away from school, you’ve still committed a crime and your school can get involved.
  • Get suspended or kicked off of a team/club: Sports teams especially take partying and drinking very seriously. Not only does drinking affect your health and athletic ability, but most teams encourage players to be responsible and make smart decisions.
  • Get grounded: Your parents could take away privileges like playing video games, watching TV, and going out with friends.
  • Lose driving privileges: If you get caught driving under the influence, the state could take your drivers license away. Even if you don’t drive drunk, your parents could take your car keys away as punishment.

Besides the fear of getting caught and the consequences you’ll face for underage drinking, alcohol can seriously affect your brain and your entire body. Even if you feel mature enough to drink, or if you’re over 18 and a legal adult, there’s a reason the legal age for alcohol consumption is 21. For those over 21, sure, there is a healthy amount of alcohol consumption that is okay to drink before it starts affecting your body and judgment. For women it’s usually about 1 glass, for men it’s about 2. But for anyone under 21, there’s no healthy amount. Your body and brain are not fully developed until you’re in your early 20’s, and therefore alcohol can do some serious damage to nearly your entire body.

Here’s how:

  1. 100% of alcohol is absorbed into your blood stream when consumed.
  2. Alcohol can do damage to your liver, kidneys, and pancreas, especially when they aren’t fully developed.
  3. It can alter your sleep patterns.
  4. It can affect basic motor function overall, making it difficult for you to perform simple tasks like standing up or walking.
  5. It can alter your thoughts and emotions, affecting your judgment and causing you to make decisions you wouldn’t normally make.
  6. It can elevate your heart rate and blood pressure.
  7. It can cause long term damage your brain and cause you to have memory problems.

Binge drinking, or drinking large amounts of alcohol at a time, can also lead to some serious accidents. If you drive while drunk, you can kill yourself or someone else, whether it’s your friend in the car with you or a stranger on the street. You could make the decision to get in a car with someone who’s driving drunk, which could result in you getting killed. You could have unintentional sex which might even lead to an unplanned pregnancy. You might even do something reckless to kill or injure yourself or someone else.

Doesn’t it sound like it’s worth it to just wait until you’re 21?

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Insane in the Membrane

Getting together with friends and hanging out is a favorite pastime for many youth. Friday or Saturday night parties are fun too, where you can socialize with a huge group of friends and enjoy food and games along with it. However, many youth in high school turn to alcohol for the life of these raging parties. Even if there is an adult present and no one is driving, there are many dangers to underage drinking that may not be so apparent.

When someone starts drinking alcohol at a young age it can have negative effects on the developmental growth of their brain. On Faceproject.org an article was posted about what effects alcohol has on developing brains in detail.  They say that a person’s brain isn’t done developing until mid 2os, therefore it makes sense that alcohol can have lasting affects on an adolescent’s originating sexuality, emotions, and judgement.

Also, the amount that is consumed can have negative effects on any person, whether they are of legal age or not. Wikipedia is probably not the most trusted resource out there, but they do have a table that shows what the progressive effects of alcohol are on the body by relating the blood alcohol content (determined by taking a breathalyzer) to the behavior that is most commonly seen with that level and the impairments also seen. Most states have a specified level that a person can have and not be given a DUI, however, it is important to remember that it is never alright to drink and drive. In addition, the higher the level of blood alcohol content there is in a person’s body, there is a higher health risk. Most statistics that you look at will tell you that some of the highest levels are well over 1.oo (but less than 2.0) and the individual is in the hospital in serious condition. Don’t let the person in the hospital with brain damage be you.  Underage drinking poses serious risks, legally and developmentally. Be safe when it comes to alcohol and know all the risks involved.

The New Cool

This video is just the beginning. Check out this new website I found. It is called the The New Cool and  is full of information about underage drinking. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Alcohol and the ladies…

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Most people assume that men drink more alcohol than women. Research shows that theory to be true for the over 21 (legal to drink) population.

An interesting and troubling fact is that the trend is reversed for young girls and boys. When 8th graders are polled about their lifestyle choices, more girls than boys admit to consuming alcohol within the last 30 days. More girls than boys also admit to engaging in “binge drinking” which is defined as consuming more than five alcoholic drinks on the same occasion.

As young teens age, the gap shrinks before the trend reverses as teens enter adulthood (age 18, still not legal age for alcohol consumption).

Why?

One explanation is the advertisements. Producers of alcoholic drinks frequently advertise in magazines that are sold to teens. The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth found that girls age 12-20 (all underage girls) were exposed to 68% MORE beer advertisement than their over 21 adult women counterparts. Boys between 12 and 20 also saw 29% more beer ads than men 21 or over. Girls saw 30% more ads than 21+ women for distilled spirits while boys and men saw about the same amount. Perhaps the most troublesome finding is that girls who are not yet of legal drinking age saw NINETY-FIVE PERCENT (95%) more ads than legal aged women for low-alcohol refreshers, also called alcopops, malternatives, or chick beer.

The advertisements have increased in frequency and are flooding magazines that young girls tend to buy. In 2002, girls’ exposure to magazine-based alcohol ads increased 216% compared to the year before. Boys’ exposure increased only 46% (still very significant) in their magazines. Sixteen alcohol brands made up more than half of the ads to which girls between 12 and 20 were exposed.

While girls continue to consume more alcohol, they also continue to have the most frequent, long-lasting, and immediate consequences for giving in to the walls of alcohol advertisements.

– girls and women are more susceptible to alcohol induced health problems related to the heart, brain, and/or liver
– women and men metabolize alcohol different so women may gain more weight than men as a result of consuming the booze-based calories
– several analyses have found that female consumption of alcohol increases the chances of developing breast cancer – a trend not matched with men
– teenage girls who are identified as binge drinkers are 63% more likely to become teen mothers than girls who do not drink
– in prisons, a survey revealed that 40% of sexual offenders assaulted women while they were under the influence of alcohol
– in domestic violence calls, 67% involve an abuser who consumed alcohol

If alcohol companies claim they are not advertising to teens; not targeting underage youth to begin or continue to drink, why would they advertise in magazines primarily purchased and viewed by that exact population? Is it ethical for magazine publishers and distributors to sell ad space to booze pushers when they know the purchasers of their magazines are largely underage youth? What could be done about it? Should the magazine producers be held accountable or is it the responsibility of the alcohol producer to be careful where they advertise?
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Inappropriate alcohol advertisements

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Inappropriate Alcohol Ads

Can you believe it? And they say they’re not targeting youth…

– Most teens have seen more than 75,000 advertisements for alcohol by the time they reach driving age
– Trends show that advertisements, especially for beer, have a heavy impact on current drinking behavior and intension to drink (if a certain brand advertises more then teens tend to drink that beer more)
– Teenagers report more positive opinions about drinking and their own likelihood to consume alcohol after viewing television alcohol ads
– 56% of students in grades 5 – 12 say that advertisements encourage them to drink alcohol
– More than $2 billion is spent each year on media advertising (most is seen by underage observers)
– $770 million of that money was specifically spent on television beer advertisements and another $15 million on radio beer ads. That is $785 million on beer ads!!

What does this mean to you? Do you feel targeted? Advertisements often feature individuals who teens consider describe as cool, healthy, athletic, powerful, influential, etc… With all these media advertisements, it is tough for teens to say no to alcohol use and abuse. Alcohol abuse is increasingly present in schools and in youth culture. The results are scary.

10 million people ages 10 to 20 said they had consumed alcohol within a month of being surveyed. 70% of those underage drinkers described uses that put them into the “binge drinking” category – the most dangerous consumption habit, leading to acute alcohol poisoning.

Other startling facts:
– youth who start drinking before age 15 are FOUR TIMES more likely than students who resist to develop alcoholism later in life
– alcohol is a factor in nearly half of all teen automobile crashes
– alcohol is linked to more than 2/3 of sexual assault and date rape of teens and college students
– drinking is one of the primary factors in teens engaging in unprotected sex
– alcohol companies pay for product placement in more than 235 motion pictures and 181 different television series each year including many with PG and PG-13 ratings
– In the top 15 television shows for teens, 8 featured alcohol placements

As bad as that is, there are teens resisting, but it get increasingly difficult with the media smorgasbord of advertisements that are most appealing to those who cannot legally consume the product.

Do you think it is fair for companies to use ads that appeal to teens? Should companies be penalized for advertising in kid-friend movies, magazines, or tv shows? How can teens resist advertising temptations and remain safe, sober, responsible, and healthy?