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Underage Drinking

Underage drinking is a national epidemic. Millions of teenagers throughout the U.S. abuse alcohol, thus risking serious consequences that could have lifelong impact.

Don't underestimate the seriousness of teenage drinking.

Underage drinking is a national epidemic. Millions of teenagers throughout the U.S. abuse alcohol, thus risking serious consequences that could have lifelong impact. . It's up to parents and clinical professionals to help teens avoid or quit underage drinking. If your teen needs help overcoming a drinking problem, please continue reading and explore Caron’s treatment programs.

At Caron, we can help you build a treatment program that meets your needs.

Alcohol & Underage Drinking

Prevalence of teen alcohol use.

Underage drinking is a leading public health problem in the United States with comprehensive stats showing it is the drug of choice for American teens and young adults. Rates of underage drinking and substance abuse are noticeably higher in urban areas than suburban and rural areas. Possible reasons for this are that urban areas have more stores that sell alcohol; display more alcohol ads; and are often too preoccupied with gang activity to address underage drinking. 

Risk factors for teen alcohol use.

While the causes of childhood and teenage alcohol abuse include many social, psychological and behavioral factors, being the child of an alcoholic or having several alcoholic family members is highly correlated with underage drinking. Children of alcoholics are between 4 and 10 times more likely to become alcoholics than peers with no alcoholic relatives. Children of alcoholics are also more likely to begin drinking at a young age and to develop alcohol abuse problems more rapidly.

Advertising and peer pressure (the single strongest factor) also impact whether and when underage drinking begins. Peers tend to have major sway when it comes to drinking choices, since teens may feel pressured to drink in order to fit in.

Other common risk factors for underage drinking include stress at home or school; family problems; a history of behavioral or mental health problems; or life transitions such as moving and changing schools.

Defending your teen against underage drinking.

Parents of children and teenagers exhibiting the warning signs of underage drinking are urged to intervene immediately. Many treatment options are available, and swift intervention could prevent long-term problems. Talk to your teen about the risks of underage drinking today.

For more information on alcohol addiction, treatment, prevention and rehab for teens, please explore our website or contact Caron.

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Effects of Underage Drinking

Signs of underage drinking.

The effects of alcohol abuse are intensified in teens and young adults, whose brains and bodies are still developing. Short-term signs of underage drinking include:

  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Problems at school or work
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Overdose
  • Accidents
  • Drunk driving
  • Physical and sexual assaults
  • Emotional problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Impaired ability to reason

It’s important to realize that abusing alcohol—even one time—can be deadly. For example, nearly 10% of all teenage drinkers binge drink (four or more drinks in a row for women and five or more drinks in a row for men.) Binge drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning, drunk driving and homicide, among other unfortunate fatalities. 

Long-term effects of alcohol and underage drinking.

Chronic underage drinking is associated with the following:

  • Impaired cognitive and physical development
  • Memory and learning problems
  • Increased risk of abusing other substances
  • Alcohol dependence
  • More risky behaviors
  • Future alcohol and mental health problems

Combatting underage drinking.

Parental intervention is critical for preventing and treating underage drinking. For facts and figures on underage drinking, visit our stats page. If you’re seeking professional help for your child, please explore Caron’s programs for teens or contact us today.

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Underage Binge Drinking

Effects of binge drinking.

Binge drinking can be extremely dangerous, particularly for inexperienced, underage drinkers. Consequences of binge drinking can include heightened risk for alcohol addiction; dangerous driving decisions; unprotected sex; and damage to the liver and kidneys. Binge drinking may also lead to alcohol poisoning, which sends many teens to the emergency room every year.

Binge drinking tends to harm girls more than boys. A study from the University of California, San Diego and Stanford University found that underage girls who binge drink show diminished activity in brain regions linked to memory (compared to non-drinking teenagers.) The study also concluded that women might be more vulnerable than men to neurotoxic effects of underage drinking and heavy alcohol abuse during adolescence.

Another study by Susan Tapert of the University of California, San Diego found that binge drinkers’ white matter—the part of the brain that transmits signals—was abnormal compared to non-drinking teens' white matter, suggesting that underage binge drinking could affect thinking, learning and memory.

If your teen needs help overcoming binge drinking, please explore Caron’s programs or contact us

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