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Underage drinking is everybody's problem

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POSTED: November 10, 2007 5:00 a.m.

The results of Underage Drinking can be grave:

Alcohol is a major cause of death from injuries among young people. Each year, approximately 5,000 people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking; this includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a results of homicides, 300 from suicide, as well as hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns and drownings.

Alcohol increases the risk of carrying out, or being a victim of a physical or sexual assault.

Alcohol can affect the body in many ways. The effects of alcohol range from hangovers to death from alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol can lead to other problems. These may include bad grades in school, run-ins with the law and drug use.

Alcohol affects how well a young person judges risk and makes sound decisions. For example, after drinking a teen may see nothing wrong with driving a car or riding with a driver who has been drinking.

Alcohol plays a role in risky sexual activity. This can increase the chance of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Alcohol can harm the growing brain, especially when teens drink a lot. Today we know that the brain continues to develop from birth through the teens years into the mid-20’s.

The teen years are a time of many changes. Young people move from elementary to middle to high school. Responsibilities increase from having more chores and increased homework to learning to drive and getting a job.

Teens spend less time with their parents and more time alone or with friends. They also like to stay up later and sleep in.

Teens search for who they really are and who they want to be. They worry about friendships and social groups in addition to having growing romantic interests.

The desire for adventure, excitement and action increases. That’s why many young people want to take more chances, try new things and be more independent.

Underage drinking can affect anyone, including people who don’t drink.

Underage alcohol use can lead to dangerous behavior, property damage, violence, unwanted sex, and more. The results can be injury and even death for the drinker, and for other people nearby. About 45% of people who die in car crashes involving a drinking driver under age 21 are people other than the driver. The effects of underage drinking can be felt by everyone. That makes underage alcohol use everyone’s problem.

Ending underage drinking is everyone’s job. There is role for everyone!

Everyone can work together to create a community where young people can grow up and feel good about themselves without drinking. Everyone in the community should deliver the message that underage drinking is not okay. The message should be the same whether youth hear it school, at home, in places of worship on the sports field, in youth programs or in other place where young people gather. It’s time to help young people understand that it is not okay for them to drink alcohol.

For more information on how you can get involved in this effort on a local level please contact Gini Nichols, Drug Free Coalition Chairperson @ 912-572-5778 or Tara Jennings, Family Connection Coordinator @ 756-3602.

 

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