Drinking alcohol as a teen is more serious than you would think

Carly Rohrer, Entertainment Editor

Drinking alcohol may not seem like a big deal. Everyone seems to drink it, and there are no serious effects, right? Wrong. 

Drinking as a teenager is one of the worst things someone could do to their body. Since teenagers’ brains and bodies are still developing, drinking alcohol can be extremely harmful. Studies have shown that drinking alcohol as a teen can cause permanent damage to various parts of the body.

Most importantly, brain development is hindered when an adolescent consumes alcohol. Research conducted by neuropsychologists at Duke University indicates that in teens, drinking even a moderate amount of alcohol may damage the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that allows you to learn and remember. The younger an adolescent decides to drink, the more that person runs the risk of permanently injuring the part of the brain responsible for impulse control. In other words, one who begins drinking at 15 could become a 35-year-old who continues the same spontaneous, thoughtless, reckless decisions that teenagers usually grow out of as they mature. 

Another detrimental effect that comes with drinking alcohol is a much higher chance of addiction. Because the brain is still developing, teens who start drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are five times more likely to have an addiction. One who has an alcohol addiction cannot live a normal, healthy life. The best way to avoid this problem is to remain sober until the brain has fully developed, which isn’t until the age of 25. The longer one waits to start drinking alcohol, the chances of becoming an addict decrease dramatically. Unfortunately, although saying no to drinking alcohol may be what teenagers want to do, it can be tough to remain sober because of insecurities. 

“As far as peer pressure goes, the thing to remember is that it only takes one person to say no. There are usually more people in the room who want to say no but don’t have the courage,” said health teacher Michelle Foster. 

Almost everyone has a hard time standing up to peer pressure. In this society, there is a constant pressure to fit in and be “cool.” When it comes to drugs and alcohol, it is more important to remain sober than to fit in. In 20 years, it will not have mattered if you were cool in high school or not, but what will matter is your health. Alcohol is very damaging to the growing teenage body. It can seriously affect not only the brain but the entire body. When a teen drinks alcohol, it goes into the bloodstream from the stomach and can harm multiple organs such as the liver, heart, pancreas, and your entire immune system. 

Your health should always take priority over “being cool.” Nowadays, teens and alcohol consumption is even worse. Teens aren’t just sneaking a couple of beers like what they used to do back in the day.

“The biggest issue with teenagers right now and drinking alcohol is binge drinking. Teenagers are drinking an excessive amount in a short period of time, which is extremely dangerous, and possibly even fatal,” said Foster. 

Although drinking under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks. Drinking is considered binge drinking as soon as a male has five drinks, or for females, it is four, over the course of only two hours. Binge drinking in one’s teenage years can lead to obesity, heart disease, stunted growth, and intense damage to brain tissue. 

Drinking alcohol isn’t only just bad for you; it is illegal, and getting caught drinking will lead to many severe consequences. 

“In accordance with Education Code section 48915(c), the Principal or the Superintendent shall recommend the expulsion of any student who unlawfully possesses any controlled substance at school or at a school activity.” 

Getting caught drinking on campus or coming to school drunk leads to a five-day suspension. If caught again, it could potentially mean expulsion. 

Overall, drinking alcohol is not worth it. It causes detrimental effects on the body and can lead to many severe punishments. So, stay sober to stay healthy.

For more facts about underage drinking, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/underage-drinking.htm