Alcohol is the most widely used substance of abuse among America’s youth, and drinking by young people poses enormous health and safety risks.
A young person’s body cannot cope with alcohol the same way an adult’s can. Drinking is more harmful to teens than adults because their brains are still developing- and will continue to develop through their mid-twenties. Drinking during this critical growth period can lead to lifelong damage in brain function, particularly as it relates to memory, motor skills (ability to move), and coordination. Delaying the initiation of drinking alcohol until the age of 21 greatly minimizes the negative and long-term impact of alcohol on the brain.
As children mature, it is natural for them to assert their independence, seek new challenges, and try taking risks. Underage drinking is a risk that attracts many developing adolescents and teens. Many want to try alcohol, but often do not fully recognize its effect on their health and behavior. Other reasons young people drink alcohol include:
· Peer Pressure
· Increased independence, or desire for it
· Easy access
According to research, young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21.
Keeping kids safe from underage use of alcohol and misuse of prescription pain medications is a concern for many parents. Parents are encouraged to talk with their children early on and frequently in this public service announcement from SAMHSA’s “Talk. They Hear You.”® parent-focused national media campaign. For more information about talking with your kids about underage use of alcohol and other drugs, visit underagedrinking.samhsa.gov.