Underage drinking leads to destructive habits for teens

Daniela Allen, Staff Writer

The American Council for Drug Education estimates that “nearly half of all Americans over the age of 12 are consumers of alcohol.”

Our society is impacted by alcohol in almost every aspect. Exposure to alcohol is occurring everywhere: restaurants, television, grocery stores, even families display that underage drinking is a common, so it is alright to do it.

Even if family and media aren’t exhibiting alcohol use, it is guaranteed that peers are pressuring to drink. It is not right to drink underage because kids are not mature enough to grasp the full reality of the consequences and unhealthy habits that can occur from it.It is sad that our values have turned so significantly that we are focused on alcohol consumption that leads to destructive consequences in the future. Family, friends, the community, and even the government have to pay for wrong decisions of under-age drinking.

The U.S. economy loses an estimated $185 billion each year to alcohol-related problems, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Teenagers don’t think about the effects beyond the hangover in the morning because they believe they are immortal.

“Underage drinking isn’t taken seriously enough and everyone underestimates the gravity of it and the lifelong consequences,” said Health Teacher Liz Suminski.

The pressure to drink can be overwhelming, but is it really worth it?

“People get wrapped up in the social aspect of drinking,” said Suminski. Teens don’t realize how damaging a few drinks can be, both socially and internally.

Lifelong consequences include brain damage, damage to memory skills, and hearing loss, and the effects of alcoholism on family and friends are even more damaging.

An unnamed survivor describes how her life was ruined by alcoholism. “It took another eight years of drinking research to see that something was definitely wrong with my life, the promiscuity, the turmoil, the friendships that left my world, the divorces, the shame of who I was.” As a teen, this survivor used alcohol to give her courage, vivaciousness, and attractiveness. In the long-run she realized that those drinks she believed would not affect her ruined some of the most important aspects of her life.

In addition to ruining relationships, drinking can damage a student’s ability to study well and get decent grades, as well as affect athletic performance, according to kidshealth.org.

Why would you want to risk so many positive aspects of your life to “fit in to the crowd?” A few drinks doesn’t seem like a big deal, but those will turn in to more as a person becomes more comfortable and tolerant to it. Some may even become dependent on it and won’t be able to control themselves.

The number one tip for anyone who drinks or is considering drinking is don’t underestimate the degree of alcoholism. Don’t just drink for fun; seriously think about the consequences that could happen.

Getting caught, making decisions leading to harmful ramifications, and destruction to health can all happen when drinking underage. “People drink for a specific reason,” Suminski stated. “Therapy can help you realize there are other things in life that can make you happier and fulfill your life.”