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1 McKenna Johnson Kibrom Desta Sabo Ahmed April 25, 2014.

English 1010-106

Underage Drinking

Underage drinking is wide spread through out the United States. Research by Klaidman shows that of 10 million people under the age of 21 who admitted that theyd had a cocktail in the last month, 4.4 million said that they are binge drinkers, or people who have had more than four drinks in a row. Alcohol use has risen among 12 to 17 year olds in .9% over the past three years (137). Even more research shows that In 1991, a study by the United States Surgeon General Office stated that 8 million out of the 20.7 million young people in grades 7 through 12 drank alcoholic beverages every week. 454,000 of these young drinkers reported weekly binges (Claypool, 21). A frightening statistic shows that this problem has been steadily increasing in number from 1948 to 1988 by 57 percent (Neilsen 47).

Many parents may not think that their child drinks until they are much older, but the common age that young people start drinking is between the ages 12 and 16. A study in 1995 taken by the University of Michigan stated that 35 out of 100 high school seniors drank 5 or more drinks at a time at least during their two-week survey period (10). A

2 recent poll by the National Association of Student Councils found that alcohol was the leading problem in school and 46 percent [of students] said that it was the schools most serious problem (Monroe 6). This may be because alcohol is very dangerous because it is a poisonous drug that is highly addictive (Mitchell 6). Each year, approximately 5,000 young people die as a result from underage drinking; this includes about 1,900 from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a result of homicides, 300 from suicide, and many other serious injuries resulting from burns, falls, and drowning. But drinking still continues to be widespread amongst minors. According to a US survey, three-fourths of twelfth graders, more than two-thirds of tenth graders, and about two in every five eighth graders have consumed alcohol. And when they drink, minors tend to drink excessively; often consuming four to five drinks in one sitting.

More research has concluded that adolescents tend to start drinking at very young ages. In 2003, the youngest age average being at the age of 14. People who start drinking before the age of fifteen are four times more likely to become dependent on alcohol sometime later on in their lives. The younger someone is when they start drinking, the more chances they have of engaging in dangerous behaviors that can harm themselves as well as others around them. For an example, frequent binge drinkers are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, including other drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, and their grades drop to Ds and Fs in school more often than not. People may think that one solution to end underage drinking is to lower the legal drinking age from 21 to 18 or 19 years. Although, at first glance this may seem like a good idea because a lot of underage drinkers, mainly college students, would no longer

3 be underage and are now legal to drink. Wrong. It is not so easily solved as you may think. According to Reginald Smart, in 1971 the Canadian province of Ontario lowered its drinking age from 21 to 18, thinking that it would stop underage drinking. The new law seemed to work at first, but bar owners soon complained because the young drinkers scared off the above 21 crowd. People also started to notice more accidents involving alcohol and more public displays of drunkenness by younger people. School officials were also concerned because young people during their lunch break would drink and then return to school very drunk and then unable to learn anything. Drinking at a young age is very risky because research shows that the brain continues developing until the age of 25, during which time it continues to establish important communication connections and further refines its functions.

Whatever it is that continues to lead adolescents to begin drinking, once they start, they face a number of potential health risks. Even though the severe health problems associated with harmful alcohol use are not as common in adolescents as it is with adults, many studies show that young people that drink heavily may put themselves at risk for a range of potential health risks. These many risks may include: Brain effects, liver effects, growth and endocrine effects, death, serious injuries, impaired judgment, and increased risk for physical and sexual assault. Here are a few ways that you can recognize the symptoms of underage drinking: Academic and/or behavioral problems in school. Changing groups of friends.

4 Less interest in activities and/or appearance. Slurred speech. Coordination problems. Memory and/or concentration problems.

Prevention of underage drinking: Reducing underage drinking will require communitybased efforts to monitor the activities of youth and decrease the youth access to alcohol. Research and recent publications show that many preventions strategies will require actions on the national, state, and local levels, such as enforcement of minimum legal drinking age laws, national media campaigns targeting youth and adults, increasing alcohol excise taxes, reducing youth exposure to alcohol advertising, and development of comprehensive community-based programs. These efforts will require continued research and evaluation to determine their success and to improve their effectiveness.