Alcohol alters an individual's vision, reaction times, perception of distance, and judgment of one's abilities. For adolescents, whose brains are still developing in critical ways, alcohol use makes them more vulnerable to learning and memory impairments. The use of alcohol is frequently coupled with risky and potentially destructive behaviors such as physical and emotional violence, rude or thoughtless remarks or actions, sexual mistakes or misjudgments, sexual assaults, and suicide acts and attempts.
Alcohol poisoning occurs when a person ingests more alcohol than his/her body can process. The person may appear to "pass out" when, in fact, their body systems are shutting down. It is critical to get the person immediate, emergency medical attention. Letting someone or a friend "sleep it off" can be fatal.
Underage drinking can have serious consequences. Parents can protect their children from the risks associated with drinking by maintaining open communication and expressing a clear, consistent message about alcohol. Building a close relationship with your kids will encourage them to come to you for help in making decisions that impact their health and well-being.
If your child is already drinking, talk to him/her about your concerns, explain the dangers of underage drinking, and visit with a health professional. Teens use alcohol for a number of reasons. They may be trying to fit in with their peers or boost their self-esteem. Some may be using alcohol to reduce physical or emotional pain. For others, it's an attempt to relieve boredom and act "grown up." However, in most cases, their emotional maturity and decision-making abilities are not at the level necessary to control drinking behavior, making alcohol poisoning or car crashes a very real danger.