By: Joyce S.

Glamorized by T.V., movies and social media, underage drinking still runs rampant in the United States. Despite the laws and warnings teenagers and young adults still chose to ignore the rules set by authority but at what cost?

According to the CDC “Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks.” This disturbing static merely calls attention to the massive problem that has been plaguing America since the initial distribution of alcohol. The effects of people under the age of 21 consuming alcohol are dangerous and, in some cases, irreversible.   

Underage drinking has become relatively normalized in today’s culture via pop culture and other social influences. This causes minors (people under the age of 21) to grossly underestimate the damage that intoxication can do to their current state as well as their future. The journal, Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, reports that binge drinking in children as young as 12 years old can cause a decrease in memory, spatial functioning and ability to comprehend new information. Irreversible brain damage was also reported among the test group, once again enforcing the reasoning behind the law against underage drinking.

Consuming alcohol before 21 years of age can lead to a host of legal problems as well. Just for being under the influence, teens can be fined up to $500 in Georgia, forced to attend a class about alcohol addiction and made to complete eight to 12 hours of community service.

Drinking and driving also poses a very serious threat to teens and other drivers. If underage and caught driving under the influence, depending on the state, blood alcohol levels will not be taken into account. This is because alcohol has a much greater effect on developing minors’ bodies. This means that in some states, even just one drink while driving a car can produce serious legal concequences.

Drinking alcohol does not just impact people under 21. It has been proven that those who drink before their brain has finished developing are more likely to succumb to addiction of both alcohol and other substances later in life. This is due to a lack of impulse control in the developing brain. In fact, according to The Daily Telegraph, new discoveries in neuroscience show that the human brain is not fully developed until the age of 25.

Drinking and alcohol will always be a part of America’s culture, but it does not have to be a part of the youth culture. Societal norms are proving harmful to future generations. As a result, I think, the dangerous and irreversible effects of alcohol are simply not worth the price.

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