Risks of Underage Drinking

Risks of drinkingWhat are the risks of teen drinking?

#1 Permanent damage to developing teen brains

#2 Alcohol poisoning, car crashes, sexual assaults, fights

#3 Arrests, fines and legal fees can affect college or job prospects

Drinking and binge drinking is often glamorized in pop culture as an easy way to fit in, have fun and make many friends; however, there is a stark reality that exists with teen and tween drinking.

Risk #1 – Permanent damage to developing teen brains

There are many physical risks when a youth drinks alcohol, including:

  • In addition to permanent damage to developing teen brains, alcohol can cause cancer and organ damage all over the body.
  • Teens can become dependent on alcohol in as little as six months.
  • If there is alcoholism in your family, you have a higher risk of becoming an alcoholic, and alcoholism is a life-long disease.
  • Alcohol is a depressant that slows the activity of the brain and promotes blackouts and memory loss.
  • Alcohol is a toxin that affects every organ of the body.

Risk #2 - Alcohol poisoning, car crashes, sexual assaults, fights

The risk of alcohol poisoning, car crashes, sexual assaults and/or fights greatly increases when a teenager drinks alcohol.

Alcohol Poisoning

Binge drinking can lead to death from respiratory arrest or from vomiting or choking; letting a teen “sleep it off” is never a good idea.

Alcohol is toxic. High blood alcohol levels can cause death regardless of age. Young people have a lower tolerance for alcohol than do adults. Even a small amount of alcohol during such activities as skating, biking, or boating can result in impaired judgment causing injury or death.

Car Crashes and Other Injuries

Alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes, falls, drowning, and other injuries kill more than 2000 U.S. teens every year. Alcohol-related injury is leading cause of teenage deaths. Alcohol quickly enters the bloodstream and circulates throughout the body, causing blurry/double vision or loss of balance and poor coordination, leading to impaired driving, serious injuries, or death.

Alcohol impairs driving ability by slowing reaction time, decreasing coordination and altering vision.

Sexual Assaults and Fights

Girls and those with lower body weight are affected by alcohol even faster!

Alcohol impairs judgment and alters behavior, increasing the chances of having unprotected sex, which can lead to pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and viruses like HIV, which causes AIDS. Alcohol also increases the chances of getting into fights and becoming violent, committing murder and suicide, and being the victim of or committing sexual assaults, including date rape.

Risk #3 - Arrests, fines and legal fees can affect college or job prospects

Alcohol use by young people can lead to social problems such as poor school performance, disruption of family life, juvenile crime, delinquency, and other involvement with the judicial system. These problems may, in turn, lead to increased alcohol abuse.

Some colleges ask applicants about previous arrests and crimes, especially those with programs that would require one to sit for a medical, financial or legal-related professional exam. Drinking sometimes leads to bad decisions, i.e. drinking and driving, shoplifting, etc., which, if caught, could greatly impact the educational path you desire for your professional future.

Most job applications ask prospects if they have ever been arrested or charged with a crime. Further, many employers conduct nation-wide background checks on those they are considering to hire. This is because, generally, employees are exposed to or are around sensitive company information and some even have access to money. Companies see those job applicants who have been arrested and/or charged with a crime as a risk and even a liability when it comes to the financial and confidential affairs of an organization. Also, prospective employers sometime attempt to view an applicant’s Facebook page to learn more about how the individual conducts himself when outside of work. If your account is unsecured, alcohol-related Wall remarks and photos posted by your or your friends could be interpreted any of a number of ways by a prospective employer.

Be the Parent on the Scene!

To prevent alcohol consumption or abuse, let your children know where you stand and don’t be afraid to check up on your child. It is your right and responsibility to be aware of what is going on in your child’s life. If you think or know your teen is drinking, it’s never too late to Be the Parent on the Scene! Additional support is available by contacting one of the organizations or programs in your county.


In addition to the information found on the Be the Parent on the Scene web site, we offer a comprehensive list of resources related to underage and binge drinking and alcohol abuse.