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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?

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.

Superbowl Beer Ads = A Super Lie

This past weekend America enjoyed its biggest sporting event of the year: the Superbowl. If you tuned in you saw the Saints take home their first ever Lombardi trophy. You would have also seen a myriad of multi-million dollar commercials. Some of the commercials were funny, clever, or just plain stupid. Despite one’s opinion of the best and worst advertisements, one thing is true: beer commercials dominated. This has been the norm for decades.

These beer commercials have a big impact on teens. According to JoinTogether.org, teens that were surveyed listed beer commercials as three of their top five favorite ads.                                                                                                                             

The Drug-Free Action Alliance surveyed more than 8,400 youth in middle and high school to see which ads resonated the most with teens. The top two ads were for Doritos followed by three ads for Anheuser-Busch alcohol products. “We wanted to see what commercials the kids were remembering. Not surprisingly, the ones for alcohol were among the top five,” explained Brad Reynolds, Communications Director for the Drug-Free Action Alliance.

Maybe you are thinking, “So what. How do these funny ads hurt teens or cause them to drink?” Reynolds also says, “The findings are concerning, considering that research shows that young people are influenced by ads, and the younger someone starts to drink, the more likely they are to develop an alcohol problem later in life.” Teenagers are easily influenced. When alcohol corporations portray drinking as a fun and exciting activity,  they are setting up young people for a fall. Teens do not understand the very real consequences of drinking and the permanent problems that can come from it.

Perhaps the biggest problem this blogger has with alcohol advertising is the gross misrepresentation of the effect of drinking on life. The ads make drinking look so carefree and socially fulfilling. The ads make drinking look like the apex of life, and if one does not down some brews on a regular basis he or she is missing the best of what life has to offer.

The truth is that alcohol  has the opposite impact. One does not hear a person joyfully proclaiming, “Since I started drinking, my life has turned around! I’ve been promoted at work and my family has never been better! Drinking is the best thing I have ever done!” Instead one will hear about struggles with alcoholism, abuse, drunk driving deaths, and wasted opportunities and lives. Ads never tell of the neglected and broken hearted child or the wife beaten by a drunk husband.

Beer commercials are a lie. This lie is being told to a whole new generation of young people who need to hear the real story. If you are a young person reading this post, don’t believe what they tell you: alcohol will ruin your life. If you are an adult reading this post, do all that you can to protect and educate the young people in your life concerning the dangers of drinking.

Shameless sales tactics

It is no secret that the target customer of beer and other alcohol companies is young people. No one ever sees middle-aged people that have gray hair having a drink in advertisements. This image does not sell. However, images of young, attractive, perfect-looking people do sell to all audiences.

Old Navy has jumped on this bandwagon and is trying to take advantage of teen drinking with the sell of their metal beverage containers and graphic t-shirts.

Oregon Partnership sent a letter to the CEO of  Gap, which owns Old Navy stores, stating:

“…the sale of such items to a young customer base is repugnant and goes against the company’s pledge of social responsibility.”

A spokes person responded to the letter:

“…at Old Navy, we strive to offer merchandise that appeal to a wide range of interests….it is never our intention to offend our customers and we apologize for any concerns related to our product.”

This response is half-hearted, to say the least. It is obvious the Gap company does not feel it needs to raise its standards and morals when selling products to the young people to purchase most of its merchandise.

Underage drinking is against the law. Killing is against the law. Stealing and holding people hostage is against the law. We don’t see companies selling t-shirts that advertise killing or kidnapping, which we agree are both against the law. But some, like Old Navy, try to promote an unlawful activity by selling merchandise that is marketed to young people.

Yes, these are just t-shirts and a “water” bottle. No, this is not the end of the world. But when alcohol has cause the devastating problems we see among teens today, adults need to help minors make good choices and be more creative in the products they choose to sell. And one last note: no where on these products does it say that people under the age of 21 should not drink or that underage drinking is against the law.

Inappropriate alcohol advertisements

alcohol

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?