The Problem with Underage Drinking
Alcohol is a drug. When we hear the word "drug" alcohol may not come to mind, but by definition a drug is a substance which has an effect on the body when injested, which alcohol surely does. In fact, alcohol is the most widely abused drug, and the cause of the most drug-related health and impairment problems, includiing deaths. Alcohol is a depressant. It slows the chemical messages between the brain and the body. Some of those messages help us to make decisions, help us to breathe, and keep our heart beating at the necessary rate. The depressant effect of alcohol can slow or even stop these processes in high quantities.
Binge drinking is by definition 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men on one occassion. Alcohol is metabolized out of the body at a rate of one standard drink per hour, but not every drink is "standard". A standard drink contains 1/2 ounce of pure alcohol, the amount in one 4-ounce glass of wine, one 12-ounce beer, or one shot of 100 proof liquor. As a person becomes intoxicated, they may become sleepy or pass out, however when combined with stimulants, like caffine or medications, the body stays awake longer and the user may continue to drink, sometimes leading to alcohol poisoning or overdose.
The teenage brain is not ready for alcohol. During the late teen years, the part of the brain responsible for judgement is not yet developed. In fact, it's not done developing until the mid-twenties! As a teenager, alcohol use often results in poor decisions as the brain is not yet programmed to consider long term consequences, and alcohol use can impair brain developemnt and function even after the alcohol has left the body.
Click the links in the green box on the right to learn more about underage drinking
In late May, several local Youth 2 Youth members gathered with the Prevention Staff of Maryhaven at the Mills Center to conduct the third annual Environmental Scan of local alcohol outlets and tobacco smoke shops. The UCDFC requests this annual audit of local outlets to examine alcohol advertising and placement of alcoholic beverages. With marijuana legalization in the news, this year the Coalition also wanted to examine the local availability of marijuana paraphernalia.
Without question, talking to your child about substance use is extremely important in our efforts to protect our kids from alcohol and drugs. But there are other things that we need to do as parents to be effectively involved in preventing alcohol and drug problems for our kids and in our families.
The Union County Drug Free Coalition is partnering with local businesses that sell alcohol to remind their customers, "We Don't Serve Teens". We know that underage drinking is not only illegal, it can also lead to serious health and safety issues for our teens. Local businesses have an opportunity to restrict access to alcohol and check identification to reduce underage drinking.
Rick Carder, owner of the Marysville Short Stop, was happy to put that message on the front door of his store. "I'm happy to help. We don't want kids drinking," said Carder.
A Message to Parents About High-Risk Drinking At College
The first 6 weeks of college for first-year students are critical to their success; about 1/3 fail to enroll for their second year.
1,700 college students die each year from alcohol-related injuries including motor vehicle crashes.
Alcohol is the most abused drug, and about 25 % of college students report negative academic consequences because of their drinking including missing class falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers and receiving lower grades overall. 31% of college students meet criteria for alcohol abuse diagnosis and 6 % for alcohol dependence diagnosis.
Your child may be away at college, but you still have influence.