Underage Drinking Can Have Lifelong Effects; Alcohol Causes Numerous Short-Term & Long-Term Problems

Press Release header

MEDIA RELEASE

From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein

Date November 24, 2015                              

CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925 

Underage Drinking Can Have Lifelong Effects

Alcohol Causes Numerous Short-Term & Long-Term Problems

ERIE COUNTY, NY— As the holidays arrive, college students will return home to socialize with friends while teenagers may seek out parties where alcohol will be illegally served.  Parents, need to be aware of alcohol’s dangers, availability, and teens’ and young adults’ patterns of usage.

As with any high-risk behavior, prevention is key. “Adolescence is a critical risk period for initiation of alcohol use, and earlier onset of drinking is associated with greater risk of developing alcohol abuse and dependence,” said Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health. There are numerous consequences of underage adolescent drinking, such as:

  • School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades
  • Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities
  • Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk
  • Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses
  • Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity
  • Disruption of normal growth and sexual development
  • Physical and sexual assault
  • Higher risk for suicide and homicide
  • Death from alcohol poisoning
  • Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning
  • Memory problems
  • Abuse of other drugs
  • Changes in brain development that have life-long effects may occur 

Burstein added, “Even small amounts of alcohol consumed can be dangerous for adolescents. Recent studies indicate that alcohol use during the adolescent period of brain development may interrupt key processes, possibly leading to cognitive impairment and an elevated risk of developing a chronic alcohol use disorder.”

Binge drinking as defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is the pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or greater. This is the legal intoxication level for adults in all 50 states in the United States. With lower body weights and mass, adolescents can quickly reach these BAC numbers more quickly than adults. Frequent binge drinkers are significantly more likely to experience reduced health quality of life and mental distress.

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For More Information:

Erie County Department of Health

NY State Department of Health  

Journal of Pediatrics (Binge Drinking, Sept. 2015)

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration. Talk. They Hear You.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Make a Difference: Talk to Your Child About Alcohol

HealthyChildren.org

The Pennsylvania State University. A Parent Handbook for Talking With Adolescents About Alcohol.

Talking To Kids about Alcohol: 5 Conversation Goals

1. Show you disapprove of underage drinking.

More than 80% of young people ages 10-18 say their parents are the leading influence on their decision to drink or not drink. So they really are listening, and it’s important that you send a clear and strong message.

2. Show you care about your child’s happiness and well-being.

Young people are more likely to listen when they know you’re on their side. Try to reinforce why you don’t want your child to drink—not just because you say so, but because you want your child to be happy and safe. The conversation will go a lot better if you’re working with, and not against, your child.

3. Show you’re a good source of information about alcohol.

You want your child to be making informed decisions about drinking, with reliable information about its dangers. You don’t want your child to be learning about alcohol from friends, the internet, or the media—you want to establish yourself as a trustworthy source of information.

4. Show you’re paying attention and you’ll notice if your child drinks.

You want to show you’re keeping an eye on your child, because young people are more likely to drink if they think no one will notice. There are many subtle ways to do this without prying.

5. Build your child’s skills and strategies for avoiding underage drinking.

Even if your child doesn’t want to drink, peer pressure is a powerful thing. It could be tempting to drink just to avoid looking uncool. To prepare your child to resist peer pressure, you’ll need to build skills and practice them.

Keep it low-key. Don’t worry, you don’t have to get everything across in one talk. Many small talks are better.

 

 

 

 

Talking To Kids about Alcohol: 5 Conversation Goals

 

1. Show you disapprove of underage drinking.

More than 80% of young people ages 10-18 say their parents are the leading influence on their decision to drink or not drink. So they really are listening, and it’s important that you send a clear and strong message.

2. Show you care about your child’s happiness and well-being.

Young people are more likely to listen when they know you’re on their side. Try to reinforce why you don’t want your child to drink—not just because you say so, but because you want your child to be happy and safe. The conversation will go a lot better if you’re working with, and not against, your child.

3. Show you’re a good source of information about alcohol.

You want your child to be making informed decisions about drinking, with reliable information about its dangers. You don’t want your child to be learning about alcohol from friends, the internet, or the media—you want to establish yourself as a trustworthy source of information.

4. Show you’re paying attention and you’ll notice if your child drinks.

You want to show you’re keeping an eye on your child, because young people are more likely to drink if they think no one will notice. There are many subtle ways to do this without prying.

5. Build your child’s skills and strategies for avoiding underage drinking.

Even if your child doesn’t want to drink, peer pressure is a powerful thing. It could be tempting to drink just to avoid looking uncool. To prepare your child to resist peer pressure, you’ll need to build skills and practice them.

Keep it low-key. Don’t worry, you don’t have to get everything across in one talk. Many small talks are better.