Know! April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Preventing underage drinking can be especially tricky because alcohol is an easily accessible, highly available, socially acceptable drug; making it seem somehow less dangerous. And yet research proves otherwise.

Alcohol impacts the developing adolescent brain.1

  • The human brain continues to develop into the mid-twenties. If alcohol is heavily consumed in adolescence, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory can shrink by about ten percent. 
  • When it comes to behavior and brain function, while alcohol has a sedative effect on adults, it acts as a stimulant to adolescents. Due to this stimulant effect, youth are more likely to drink past the point where adults would typically end up passing out.

The more alcohol consumed, the more likely youth are to engage in risky behaviors.

  • Like drinking and driving, or choosing to get in the car with someone who has been drinking: Nearly 40% of all traffic deaths among 16 to 20-year-olds are alcohol-related.2
  • Kids who drink are more likely to become sexually active (putting them at greater risk of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases).3
  • Teen girls who binge drink are 63% more likely to get pregnant in their teen years.4
  • Students who use alcohol are five times more likely to drop out of school or to believe that earning good grades is not important.5

The earlier the onset of drinking begins, the greater the risk of becoming addicted later in life.6

  • Forty percent of children who start drinking before the age of 15 will become alcoholics at some point in their lives. 
  • If the onset of drinking is delayed by five years, a child’s risk of serious alcohol problems is cut in half.

Alcohol is extremely hazardous to the health and safety of our youth, carrying dangerous and even deadly consequences. Underage drinking is also illegal, and by law, carries specific consequences. In this tip, we’ve provided some background on why parents should work hard to prevent underage drinking. In our next tip, we’ll give you information on getting these alcohol-focused conversations started and ideas on keeping them going.

In the meantime, visit DrugFreeActionAlliance.org for more information.

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