Lyndsey M. Pickens
11 November 2013
Underage drinking is very common among high school students, whether it be to “fit in” with their friends or to try something new. There are many reasons people drink when they are underage, but they may not know all the risks or consequences that follow. Some of the major things that can come from teen drinking are alcohol related deaths, illnesses, and diseases, and bad choices made while under the influence. There are also many effects of the underage consumption of alcohol, including peer pressure, drunk driving, jail time, and the odds of becoming an alcoholic.
While there are numerous sicknesses that can come from the consumption of alcohol, twelve of them stand out over the rest: anemia, cancer, cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis, dementia, depression, seizures, gout, high blood pressure, infectious disease, nerve damage, and pancreatitis. Anemia is when the body’s red blood cell count is lower than normal. Places in the body where cancer can occur is the mouth, throat, liver, breast, etc. Cardiovascular disease can come from it when blood clots occur and cause heart attacks or strokes. Cirrhosis occurs when alcohol (which is toxic to liver cells) damages the liver to the point that it does not function properly. Dementia is when the shrinkage of our brain increases more than normal and creates memory loss. Sometimes when people are depressed, they turn to alcohol to “help” them forget whatever is going on, even if only for a short amount of time. An unruly amount of alcohol can trigger seizures in people even if they don not have epilepsy. Gout is a “painful condition of the joints.” Over a period of time, binge drinking can cause chronic high blood pressure. Drinking can also be a gateway to life threatening diseases such as tuberculosis because it shuts down the immune system. Alcohol can cause a kind of nerve damage called neuropathy. Alcohol consumption can also cause the pancreas to become inflamed, resulting in “severe abdominal pain” (Freeman).
Underage drinking is defined as the act of a person under the legal age of twenty-one consuming alcohol. Injuries and deaths among teens while under the influence are far greater than those among adults. More than five thousand people under the age of twenty-one die each year from alcohol-related incidents: these include car accidents, suicide, drowning, and many others. Drinking can also cause a lapse in judgment, such as violence, sexual activity, and drunk driving. While teens may not drink often, they drink a lot when they do. Studies show that even though they drink only around three times per month, they drink more than five drinks each time. Having five drinks per occasion is also known as “binge drinking.” Also, people under the age of twenty-one are more likely to be in a fight or cause a fight when they are under the influence. There are ways to detect whether or not a teen is drinking: memory problems, the scent of alcohol on their garments or breath, change of friends, behavior changes, mood swings, and dull expressions (“Underage Drinking”).
Although underage drinking seem like a big deal to some people, it is one of the leading causes of death in teenagers. In 2010, MADD, or Mothers Against Drunk Driving, found that 68% of alcohol-related casualties were not from a traffic accident. Among this 68% was homicide, suicide, alcohol poisoning, and other causes. Larry Copeland shares a story about a woman named Debbie Taylor who said that she taught her kids to never drink and drive. She said that she found her eighteen-year-old son’s bottle of rum in the garage and did not say anything about it to him because she knows that she taught him not to drive drunk. Four months later, she is grieving the death of her son not because of drunk driving, but because of alcohol poisoning. Casey, her son, drank a lot of his “stash” one night with his friends and never regained consciousness when he passed...
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