Alcohol – the easiest drug for our kids to obtain. Friends, older brothers and sisters, and – unfortunately – some parents will buy it for their teens. After all, “it’s a right of passage” … “I drank, and I’m okay” … “my parents served it to us”.
But here are the facts... the earlier a child starts to drink, the more likely that heavy alcohol use will stay with him or her for the rest of their lives. The younger a child is when they take their first drink, the higher the chance that they will become an alcoholic.
- If your child begins drinking before the age of 15, they have a 40% chance of becoming an alcoholic.
- If they start before 17, the chances drop to 24.5%.
- And if they wait until they’re 21, the legal drinking age, the chances drop to 10%.
Add to that these facts... alcohol and other drug use can impair judgment, which can result in inappropriate sexual behavior, sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV/AIDS), injuries and car crashes. Habitual use can lead to an inability to control drinking, blackouts and memory loss, cirrhosis of the liver, vitamin deficiencies, damage to heart and central nervous system, weight gain, sexual impotence, and may also interfere with personal relationships.
The Legal Drinking Age is 21: Why That’s a Good Idea According to the American Medical Association
- Adolescent drinkers scored worse than non-drinkers on vocabulary, general information, memory, memory retrieval and at least three other tests
- Verbal and nonverbal information recall was most heavily affected, with a 10 percent performance decrease in alcohol drinkers
- Adolescent drinkers perform worse in school, are more likely to fall behind and have an increased risk of social problems, depression, suicidal thoughts and violence
- Alcohol affects the sleep cycle, resulting in impaired learning and memory as well as disrupted release of hormones necessary for growth and maturation
- Alcohol use increases risk of stroke among young drinkers
A Resource for Parents & Mentors to Talk to Teens About Alcohol
The Health Alliance on Alcohol Series is written by experts, doctors in adolescent medicine and parents themselves from New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System. These materials are designed to be a resource for understanding the facts and statistics around specific issues and underage drinking before discussing the topics with teens. Like the Alliance for Safe Kids, HAA hopes to challenge parents to start and keep up on-going conversations with their teens.
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