The legal drinking age in US

Consequences of underage drinking

The legal drinking age is 21. This minimum age drinking law is created to protect you and your health and safety, and to protect the general public's health and safety.

As you read this chapter, remember: just because we discuss drinking does not mean you should drink. If you are under 21, consuming alcohol is illegal. Even though alcohol is illegal for people younger than 21, some teens still choose to drink and can face serious consequences.

Consequences of Underage Drinking

  1. School problems. Study shows that teenagers who drink do not do well in school. They have higher absence rates and poor or failing grades.
  2. Social issues. Teenagers who drink tend to have social issues such as not getting along with others, fighting and a lack of participation in group activities and sports.
  3. Legal problems. Teenagers who drink tend to get into trouble with the law. They also tend to drink and drive and get arrested, or get into fights with others while drunk.
  4. Drinking and driving. Drinking and driving is extremely dangerous. When you are drunk, your brain cannot function well or react appropriately to road hazards; this will increase the chances of getting into an accident and put you and other drivers at risk on the highway.
  5. Health problems. Drinking has a damaging effect on the body including the liver, brain, heart, pancreas and immune system. Drinking alcohol can even increase the risk of cancer.
  6. Risky sexual activities. Drinking alcohol and getting drunk takes away good judgment and logical thinking. Consequently, teenagers who drink may get involved in unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activities.
  7. Growth issues. Teenagers who drink will have disruption of normal growth and sexual development.
  8. Assault. Drinking alcohol causes drinkers to not to think clearly help them make stupid decisions and poor judgment such as assaulting people or even friends physically, mentally and even sexually.
  9. Homicide. Committing homicide is a serious crime and can be punished by the death penalty or life in prison. Unfortunately, people who are drunk and impaired sometimes cannot think clearly and can start a fight, which can escalate to murder.
  10. Suicide. Drinking alcohol can cause addiction and depression in people. At times, they are so vulnerable that they may end up taking their own life, whether voluntarily or not.
  11. Memory problems. Drinking alcohol reduces brain function and can have long-term side effects on memory.
  12. Abuse of other drugs. Once a teenager starts drinking, he/she may start looking for another form of a substance that can get him/her to become high, promoting drug abuse.
  13. Death from alcohol poisoning. Many teenagers do not know the seriousness of binge drinking. Too much alcohol in a system can cause serious health problems and even death.

Does drinking impact adolescence?

Adolescence is a period of serious development. Most human beings develop well into their 20s, both mentally and physically. The younger someone is when they start to use alcohol, the more likely they are to become an alcoholic.

Alcohol doesn't just impair physical and mental development – it can harm your emotional development too. Teens are developing their identities during adolescence, which involves many choices, some with moral, emotional, and physical consequences.

Alcohol alters your brain chemistry, your mood and behavior making it harder for you to make responsible decisions, handle problems, and interact with other people.