Thursday, September 23rd, 2021

Alcohol use by persons under 21, health concern

Posted: Friday, April 24, 2015

Alcohol use by persons under age 21 is a major public health problem. It is extremely dangerous - both to the individual and to society, and is directly associated with traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, educational failure, legal problems, abuse of other drugs and death from alcohol poisoning. Drinking is more harmful to teens than adults.

Teen brains are still developing until the individual’s mid-20s. Drinking during this critical growth period can lead to lifelong damage in brain function, particularly as it relates to memory, motor skills and coordination.

Alcohol is the number one drug of choice for America’s youth, and is more likely to kill young people than all illegal drugs combined. The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, during the past 30 days: 35% drank some amount of alcohol, 21% binge drank, 10% drove after drinking alcohol and 22% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol. People aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks. Youth who start drinking before age 15 years are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21.

Although the prevention of consumption of alcohol by youth is the ultimate goal, the Indiana Lifeline Law is designed to protect minors when alcohol consumption endangers a friend. The law grants immunity from certain charges, including public intoxication and minor consumption, to youth who call 911 when a friend has ingested a dangerous quantity of alcohol. If the minor(s) stay with the friend and cooperate with law enforcement, they are immune from prosecution. The Lifeline Law does not condone underage drinking. While those who call for help won’t be prosecuted, the inebriated teen can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The focus is on saving lives.

It’s easy to underestimate how early underage drinking starts - sometimes even in the preteen years - as well as the amount of alcohol teens drink and the risks involved. Still, underage drinking isn’t inevitable. Encourage teens to avoid alcohol. Talk to them about the risks of underage drinking and the importance of making good decisions. For more information, please visit on Facebook at Local Anti-Drug Coalition Efforts - LACE.