5 Reasons for Teens to Be Alcohol-Free
Guest post by Beth Rush
Drinking alcohol is among the most dangerous activities people can participate in. Whether it’s you, your friends, or your family, there are no winners in alcohol drinking. It can adversely affect your physical health and possibly lead to death. The effects are even worse for teenagers. Here are five reasons why a teenager should remain alcohol-free.
Keeping Teens Alcohol-Free
Alcohol can lead to a worst-case scenario with loss of life. By drinking alcohol, you’re risking your own life and the safety of others, especially while driving or operating a vehicle. In 2019, 24% of drivers ages 15-20 who died in a car crash had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.01. And 82% of those drivers had a BAC of .08 or higher. Alcohol doesn’t just affect teenagers. In 2019, alcohol accounted for 28% of all motor vehicle accidents.
Over time, alcohol can create health conditions for your body, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and various cancers. It can weaken your immune system, which increases your chance of catching illnesses such as COVID-19. By drinking alcohol, you can also develop mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and social problems.
When you’re a teenager, your body is growing all the time. When you go through puberty, your hormones change and you see increased testosterone for boys and estrogen for girls. Alcohol can harm this growth and prevent your body’s reproductive system from achieving proper maturation.
Specifically, alcohol can damage your pituitary gland, which produces and releases hormones; the hypothalamus, which releases hormones to the pituitary gland; and the ovaries and the testes.
The effects of teenage drinking on the body can be detrimental. Perhaps the most adverse effects happen to your brain. Drinking alcohol can do long-term harm to your memory and critical-thinking skills. Your body and brain are still growing when you’re a teenager, and alcohol is a roadblock in that task.
The prefrontal cortex is a critical part of your brain that alcohol can harm. This section of your brain is responsible for your cognitive functions. This cortex affects your ability to reason, solve problems, comprehend, and be creative. Damage to your prefrontal cortex can prevent this essential part of your brain from growing as it should.
Another part of your brain that alcohol can damage is the cerebellum. This section of your brain handles your motor skills, like your ability to move your hands and feet. Teenage alcohol consumption can damage this part of your brain that is still growing. You’ll see adverse effects on your posture and balance if you drink alcohol.
Alcohol consumption can also lead to alcohol addiction — a condition that may lead to altered brain functioning over time, so help your children remain alcohol-free.
Your liver is the largest organ in your body and is responsible for processing the liquids you drink. If you drink alcohol, your liver will start to have difficulty breaking down what you drink. An overworked liver can lead to damage and disease to this vital organ.
The liver metabolizes alcohol and can only tolerate 1 ounce of liquor per hour. Any more than this amount will overwhelm your liver, and the alcohol will start to affect your blood and various tissues throughout the body. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to liver diseases like fatty liver, cirrhosis, or alcoholic hepatitis.
Purchasing alcohol is illegal for teenagers in all 50 U.S. states. With few exceptions, providing alcohol to a minor is also prohibited. This standard applies to the adults who provide the alcohol, but teenagers can also get in trouble. In many states, police can charge teenagers for possessing alcohol. These consequences will negatively affect a teen’s life before they even graduate high school.
The charge for a minor possessing alcohol varies by state. This offense can go on your criminal record and negatively impact your ability to earn scholarships for college, apply for jobs, and achieve other goals in your life. A judge may subject you to community service, send you to a diversion class on alcohol, and give you a hefty fine. Additionally, you may see your license suspended or end up in jail because of your possession of alcohol. You will not have to deal with this problems if you remain alcohol-free.
If you’re a teenager, you have a lot to look forward to in your life. Think about your senior prom, high school graduation, going to college, getting a degree, and starting a new life. Consider the career you’re aiming for – whether you want to be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, or any other profession. You can throw all that away with just one drink of alcohol.
The short-term effects of alcohol can be deadly. Ingesting any amount of alcohol will impair your driving. This decision can lead to an accident that kills you, others in your vehicle, people in other cars, or pedestrians on the sidewalk. Over the long haul, drinking alcohol harms your brain’s development and your physical growth. Additionally, alcohol negatively impacts your reproductive organs’ proper growth, leading to possible issues down the road with fertility.
Even if your friends tempt you, remind yourself of the short- and long-term effects because one night of what you think is fun won’t end up as exciting if an accident happens.