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Underage Drinking

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Underage

Alcohol use by young people is dangerous, not only because of the risks associated with acute impairment, but also because of the threat to their long-term development and well being. Traffic crashes are perhaps the most visible of these dangers, with alcohol being implicated in nearly one-third of youth traffic fatalities. Underage alcohol use is also associated with violence, suicide, educational failure, and other problem behaviors. All of these factors are magnified by early onset of teen drinking: the younger the drinker, the worse the problem.1

A report from the Institute of Medicine (Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility, September 2003) states that reducing underage drinking requires a cooperative effort from all levels of government, alcohol manufacturers and retailers, the entertainment industry, parents and other adults in the community. The report proposes a comprehensive strategy to curb underage drinking, a problem that costs the nation an estimated $53 billion annually, due in part to losses stemming from traffic fatalities and violent crime.1

Experimenting with alcohol use is common during adolescence and can spawn serious problems for some youth. These problems include adverse medical consequences, health risks associated with unsafe sexual behavior and unintentional injuries.2  Among the reasons teens give most often for drinking are to have a good time, to experiment, and to relax or relieve tension. Peer pressure can encourage drinking. Teens who grow up with parents who support, watch over, and talk with them are less likely to drink than their peers.3

Heavy drinking increases a woman's risk of becoming a victim of violence and sexual assault. Drinking makes young women more vulnerable to sexual assault and unsafe and unplanned sex. On college campuses, assaults, unwanted sexual advances, and unplanned and unsafe sex are all more likely among students who drink heavily on occasion – for men, five drinks in a row, for women, four. In general, when a woman drinks to excess she is more likely to be a target of violence or sexual assault.3

This page was last modified on : 10/28/2013

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