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In the United States, the minimum legal drinking age is 21. Underage drinking is illegal and comes with some severe consequences such as community service, fines, jail time or driver’s license suspension. Typically, minors begin drinking alcohol from binge drinking. This is where a person consumes an extreme amount of alcohol within a short amount of time. For males, binge drinking is considered to have more than five alcoholic drinks in a two-hour span, and for females, it is four or more alcoholic beverages within the same amount of time. Binge drinking can cause problems in a young adult’s life including risky behavior and alcohol poisoning. Binge drinking can affect a person’s school, work, relationships and even their future.

If you know someone who is under the legal drinking age and struggling with a heavy drinking problem, treatment options are available. Serenity Acres has addiction professionals who can help you get in contact with support groups and offer a wide range of alcohol recovery programs. Call us today to get your life on the road to recovery.

Can Peer Pressure Affect Alcohol Consumption?

Peer pressure can have a positive or negative influence on an individual. For example, if a friend has noticed you have had too much to drink, and they tell you so, you may feel pressured to stop drinking. However, peer pressure can make you want to do something that goes against your belief on what is right and wrong. Peer pressure can make you feel like you must keep drinking because that is what everyone else is doing and you want to “fit in.” Peer pressure is a real thing, and often teenagers are not sure how they can cope with or even avoid the troubles of underage drinking when their friends are doing it.

How to Avoid Peer Pressure

Making decisions on what is best for you defines who you are as an individual. This means you are held accountable if you decide to participate in behaviors you know are either illegal or wrong. Below are some suggestions on how you can handle peer pressure and underage drinking.

  • Find friends who have the same interests as you and who will not make you feel pressured to do something you do not want to do.
  • Being able to say no to your friends can be hard. You do not want to look like a “child” or “scared” because you do not want to do something your friends are doing. Instead, stand your ground, and explain to your friends why you do not wish to participate in something illegal or dangerous to earn respect from your peers.
  • If at all possible, try not to judge the choices of others. Having respect for another person’s choices may earn you respect for your choices. Instead, remember you do not have to agree with the life choices that a friend makes, but just as you do, they have a right to their own opinions.
  • When you are confident in how to handle peer pressure, if you see someone is a victim of peer pressure, you may stand up for that person to put a stop to it.
  • When you feel like you are peer pressured to drink alcohol, and you do not want to, reach for a water or soft drink. Some people can be persistent even after telling them no.
  • Instead of involving activities around alcohol, try to find something fun that you all can do which does not include alcohol.

Facts of Underage Drinking

According to a project Monitor the Future from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2017 the facts were staggering regarding underage drinking in the United States:

  • 10% of 8th-grade students have consumed alcohol within the last 30 days.
  • 35% of 15-year-old children have consumed alcohol at some point in their life.
  • 35% of high school students have consumed alcohol within the last 30 days.
  • 68% of 12th-grade students have tried alcohol at least once in their life.
  • 8.7 million individuals between the ages of 12-20 have consumed alcohol in the last month.
  • 52% of 10th-grade students believe that it is easy to get alcohol.

High school binge drinking statistics:

  • 1% of parents believe their teenager has a binge drinking problem.
  • 21% of high school students have participated in binge drinking within the last month.
  • 1 in 6 teenagers binge drink.
  • 90% of alcoholic beverages consumed by teenagers involve binge drinking.
  • 4,300 underage deaths were caused by binge drinking each year.
  • 189,000 emergency room visits in the year 2010 were because of underage drinking.

Underage drinking and driving facts:

  • 1 in 5 teenage drivers who are involved in fatal crashes had alcohol within their system.
  • 85% of high school students say they have participated in binge drinking.
  • Teenagers drink and drive about 2.4 million times a month.
  • Children who begin drinking at a young age are seven times more likely to have an alcohol-related crash.
  • Within the past 30 days, 22% of high school students rode with a driver who was under the influence of alcohol.

Consequences of Underage Drinking

Underage drinking can have many short and long-term effects. Sadly, teenagers who drink underage do not think or consider the implications related to their unhealthy drinking patterns until law enforcement has caught them. Some effects may not be present right away as they take time to surface. Teenagers who consume alcohol may experience one or more of the following consequences:

  • Health issues
  • Troubles in school
  • Social issues
  • Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy
  • Sexual assault or physical abuse
  • Contracting sexually transmitted diseases
  • Higher risk of suicide attempts
  • Trouble with law enforcement
  • Abuse of other substances
  • Alcohol-related deaths from drunk driving

Long-term effects of alcohol can occur as the teenager becomes older and can include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Liver disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Cancer
  • Respiratory infections

Ways to prevent these health risks would be to refrain from drinking alcohol altogether. Every year, month, day, and minute that goes by that you are free from alcohol reduces your chances of developing any of these short and long-term effects.

Does Your Teen Need Alcohol Abuse Treatment?

As a parent, it is hard to think about your teen drinking alcohol. As a parent, you pay attention to the news reports, and car accidents caused by drinking and driving, so you know the dangers of teenagers and alcohol. Since you are aware of the dangers, it is your job as a parent to recognize the signs of alcohol addiction and talk to your teenager about those dangers. If your teen is suffering from alcohol abuse, Serenity Acres is available to help you and your family find a treatment program that fits your needs. Do not turn your head to a teenager’s unhealthy drinking habits. Help them get the treatment they need. Start by contacting Serenity Acres today!