Oct 12, 2021 in Health

Underage Drinking and the Effects

The issue of underage drinking has remained rampant in many places. Many teenagers engage in alcohol consumption without taking into account its adverse consequences. Many factors influence the drinking habits of these individuals, including their family backgrounds. Various scientists have revealed that there is some correlation between teenagers’ drinking habit and their family influence, particularly in those who hail from alcoholic parents. The effects of underage drinking range from stress to death. They have physical, economic, and social impacts on both the family and society as a whole. The research uses the qualitative approach to identify various issues surrounding underage drinking, as well as establish their effects on the youths. Therefore, the need to have mitigation strategies to curb this condition proves to be of fundamental importance.

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Underage Drinking and Its Effects

In most cases, drinking is something the adults engage in. However, in reality there are many people under the age of eighteen who do it as well. In fact, most of the underage people in America drink. It is the need to identify various effects drinking has on teenagers that explains the vitality of this research. Apparently, many researchers have performed both qualitative and quantitative studies concerning the issue of underage drinking and its effects. Therefore, it is crucial to analyze the consequences and challenges that teenagers engaged in underage drinking face.

Death Consequence

Harding et al. (2016) identify various consequences of underage drinking. The adolescent death rate is one of the issues that emanate from the decision by the underage people to engage in drinking. These authors assert that underage drinking has profound negative impacts on both the drinkers and their families. Moreover, they extrapolate these influences to include their communities and the whole society as well. The immediate effects that these authors identify include the health and social challenges that entail much cost. Additionally, it is evident that binge drinking or heavy episodic drinking leads to adverse effects on the underage people. For example, the annual death rates because of underage drinking in the U.S. is 4300 (Harding et al., 2016). This scenario is quite costly for the families and the society as well. The need to find solutions to this adversity has seen many people and organizations undertaking approaches necessary to mitigate the situation. Research shows that these efforts have remained fruitful since 1982. In fact, from that period to date, there has been a 79% decline in the death rate of the young people between 16 and 20 (Harding et al., 2016). Consequently, the need to implement strategies necessary for limiting underage drinking proves imperative. These factors may include but are not limited to restricting the availability of alcohol to kids socially, economically and physically. Therefore, it is evident that underage drinking has devastating effects, which explain the need to tackle this problem.

Neurotoxic Effects

It is evident from the research that adolescents face the challenge of neurotoxic effects as result of engaging in alcohol drinking (Jacobus & Tapert, 2013). It shows that underage individuals suffer from poor neurocognitive performance. Their brain structure also shows the altered content of gray and white matter. Furthermore, their brain activation patterns show functional discrepancy as compared to the teenagers who do not engage in alcohol drinking. These effects extend to the teenagers who hail from the families with alcohol drinking history. These people usually show high-level susceptibility to alcohol drinking or increased severity to substance consumption. Despite the availability of such findings, the need for further investigations in this field is crucial. Such research must also focus on the possible intervention strategies necessary for curbing this menace. It is vital for the teenagers to remain free from this bondage and engage in activities that promote their physical, social, and economic lives.

It is also evident that underage drinking, particularly ethanol exposure, affects brain epigenetic mechanisms (Kokare, Kyzar, Zhang, Sakharkar, & Pandey, 2017). The authors reveal these alterations as long-lasting and having adverse effects on the victims. The process allows the interaction between Melanocortin and neuropeptide Y signaling. In this case, the researchers used rats to establish this effect of the intermittent use of alcohol. It was evident that the adolescents experienced brain biochemical activity. In addition, they underwent the process of epigenetic gene expression regulations. These results highlight the biochemical problems that young people are likely to encounter when they engage in drinking. In fact, it becomes apparent that underage drinking has not only social and economic-related issues but also health complications. The more these individuals engage in alcohol drinking, the more they are likely to encounter some adverse effects, particularly biochemical problems. Even though the scientists do not directly handle the individuals who have undergone such influence, it is apparent that most of them encounter these challenges quite often. In fact, some may be suffering from these conditions unknowingly. It, therefore, stresses the need to educate these youths about the consequences of consuming alcohol, especially those that affect their brains directly. The move will ensure that the people avoid consumption of this substance following its potential effects on their health conditions. Moreover, the need for additional investigation in this area is vital with much focus on the mitigation strategies. The process will aid in ensuring that underage people drink less or stop drinking in order to avoid these effects.

Binge Drinking

The issue of binge drinking is another challenge that underage people encounter in the U.S. The effects of this form of dinking (heavy episodic drinking) are widespread among the adolescents. It is one of the public health challenges that the society faces today. Binge drinking is popular among the young people, and it occurs during night hours (Kuntsche, Kuntsche, Thrul, & Gmel, 2017). The act increases the susceptibility of these young people to acute problems, that is, they sustain injuries. In addition, their chances of suffering long-term negative consequences are high. For example, these individuals are likely to encounter alcohol disorders that shall affect their lives adversely. The effects of binge drinking include both stress and depression. What is more, these youths suffer traumatic events as well as anxiety. Kuntsche et al. (2017) confirm that family and parenting-related factors also influence the drinking behavior of the underage. Therefore, it is vital that parents and other responsible adults become cautious when dealing with handling the minor. Their drinking behavior or habits are likely to affect the way these young people perceive this activity. In addition, friends who drink and the general drinking norms that exist in the social environment also influence the drinking behavior of these individuals. When teenagers have friends who drink, they also engage in such habits in most cases. Therefore, the need to remain wary of the environment as well as the friends who surround these young people is considerable. It helps identify the possible influencers of this habit (Kuntsche et al., 2017). Consequently, some preventive measures such as restricting them from accessing the alcohol prove necessary. The move is likely to assist in ensuring that these individuals remain safe of alcohol consumption and, as a result, control their drinking habit. Apparently, underage drinking has many effects on the teenagers.

According to Lisdahl, Gilbart, Wright, and Shollenbarger (2013), alcohol is the most popular and abused substance among adolescents. They report that almost a third of 12th graders and close to 40% college students have fallen victims of abuse of alcohol (Lisdahl et al., 2013). They add that marijuana is also a problem with over 58% of adolescents using it, but alcohol is more widespread (Lisdahl et al., 2013). According to them, the neurodevelopmental changes among adolescents make them susceptible to abusing drugs. Following the studies of animal behavior, adolescents are more likely to be vulnerable to neurotoxic effects that come with abuse of drugs. They go on to add more weight to their work using research studies dedicated to the impacts of alcohol and marijuana on the brain development of adolescents. Both grey and white matter are significantly affected by these two drugs making the young adults develop irrational and uncontrollable behavior. Binge drinking is underlined as the dominant form of drinking that leads to the most severe neurological disorders. They report that the structural and functional changes in the brain that relate to binge drinking reveal that the grey and white matter of the brain are largely affected. For instance, by using the diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and MRI techniques they showed that alcohol reduces the quality of the white matter that connects various vital organs of the brain (Lisdahl et al., 2013). They also attributed the use of alcohol to increased rates of hangover that also affects the white matter significantly. Using a sample of teenagers, the authors reveal that binge drinkers registered abnormal brain responses. It occurred mostly during conversations and verbal encoding. Therefore, alcohol drinking and marijuana use among adolescents is a risky activity that should not be encouraged. The authors claim that the health of the young people is at risk with concerns regarding the development of the brain.

Illness Effects

Marshall (2014) reports on the consequences of alcohol use among the adolescents. The author reports that alcohol is the third greatest risk factor that leads to diseases in the world. It contributes to 4% of the global illnesses with an estimated 2.5 million deaths attributed to it (Marshall, 2014). Of these, the author reports, 9% are between the ages of 15 and 29 (Marshall, 2014). This scientist claims that the drinking of alcohol and the abuse of other toxic substances such as tobacco are all related. For instance, the use of alcohol among the young people has the same effect as smoking in that if the habit is not controlled, then it continues into adulthood. The contribution of these other risk factors points that there is the need to focus on child drug abuse more. The future of the drinkers is, therefore, dimmed by the use of alcohol making them non-functional members of the society. Furthermore, on the basis of a certain research on baseline alcohol consumption among adolescents aged 15 and 29, alcohol consumption persisted into adulthood among the users (Marshall, 2014). Additionally, adulthood came with more problems such as dependence and misuse of money. Other outcomes involve mental health but the author hopes that more research can be done in this field to explore the details of mental problems. The most prominent consequence that Marshall points out is the premature death due to alcohol-related illnesses. In fact, if drinking persisted past the age of 34, the users were twice as likely to die. Based on the studies by other authors, Marshall suggests that cohort studies on the impact of alcohol drinking among the young people should be done to provide an impeccable evaluation of the consequences and possible solutions. There is an urgent call to the young people to tone down on the drinking because long-term consequences reveal that the future will be bleak for them.

Patrick and Schulenberg, (2014) expose the factors that drive the adolescents to drug abuse plus the major consequences of the use of alcohol among them. They add that preventive measures are critical to securing the future of the young adults. Alcohol consumption starts during the adolescence period and, therefore, the stage is very crucial in a person’s development. The long-term consequences are the basis for most research as they attempt to unravel the paradox of pleasure and pain. Using monitoring the future study (MTF), the author analyzes the effects of alcohol among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students. Although there are declining trends of alcohol consumption since 1975, students are still at risk since the level of drinking is even higher. The study attributes this to binge drinking which involves the consumption of more than five drinks in a short period of time. Moreover, drinking trends varied among adolescents of different ethnicities and gender with boys being the heaviest drinkers. Among the factors that influence adolescents into drinking are peer pressure, school, work, religious beliefs, and community attachments. These factors push them into the use of alcohol. The authors further add that the major consequences of alcohol drinking are the persistence of the use into adulthood and dropping out of school (Patrick & Schulenberg, 2014). All of these can make an individual lose his/her life, and it is the ultimate consequence of alcohol abuse. Overall, the author underscores the need to do more research on the effects of alcohol abuse on health and come up with possible prevention measures.

According to Shield, Parry and Rehm (2014), there are severe diseases related to the use of alcohol among adolescents. By reviewing the health problems that affect people who are addicted to alcohol, the authors reveal that diseases such as cancer, diabetes, neurological and psychiatric disorders, cardiovascular infections, digestive track malfunction, and chronic inflammations including psoriasis may catch up with the alcohol abusers. The sad reality is that the young adults are at risk of these diseases thus throwing the beauty and promise of their lives away. Although it is aimed at the adults, it points out the need for young adults to quit the drinking of alcohol because the long-term effects may be fatal to heath. Additionally, one of the consequences of alcohol drinking during adolescence is its persistence into adulthood. The authors remind that these risk factors mar adulthood and if adolescents are not careful, life may come to its sad and painful end at the peak of youth. For instance, the volume of alcohol consumed, the patterns of consumption and the overall quality of the alcohol may lead to fatal cases. According to the international classification of disease (ICD), ten out of the twenty-five diseases are attributed to the consumption of alcohol (Shield et al., 2014). The primary condition of the century is cancer, and use of alcohol may lead one to contracting it. Although some doctors recommend the consumption of alcohol for controlling a specific illness, there’s need to ensure that one takes the right amount and to consider the pattern of use because ischemic diseases are quite delicate. The author adds that there are, however, various limitations that come with the evaluated risk factors and alcohol-related disorders. There is a need for further research to confirm the relationship between alcohol and various diseases. Nonetheless, the author elaborates that alcohol consumption is risky especially for the adolescents and is therefore useful for the research.


Overall, it is evident from this research that teenagers suffer several effects as a result of engaging in drinking activities. Underage drinking is utterly destructive to the lives of adolescents. Some of them face death as the ultimate price for such behavior. On the other hand, the burden of underage drinking is costly not only to the victims and their families but also the society. Other than these economic and social problems, underage drinking triggers in health complications. Most of these impacts are also related to the mental health problems of teenagers. Excessive consumption of alcohol leads to biochemical activities in their brains. Therefore, it is crucial to develop a solution to remedy the situation. However, it is worth appreciating the efforts in place that are aimed to tackle this problem. That notwithstanding, the urgency for additional mitigation measures to this condition is real. Scientists, as well as the government, must develop new solutions to assist in dealing with this problem.

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