Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Chicana and Chicano StudiesLatino Health Issues

Underage Drinking

Effects of Alcohol
BAC Charts
Organizations against alcohol

~Underage drinking has become too familiar in the United States. By the age of 13, 30 percent of boys and 22 percent of girls have already begun to drink alcohol (Somdahl 21).

~ Between the fourth and the fifth grade, the number of adolescents that experiment with alcohol increases from 6 percent to 17 percent (Somdahl, 21).

~ Nearly 90 percent of 10th graders in the United States have tried alcohol at least one, while 6 out of every 10 high school seniors regularly use alcohol (Landau 15).

Alcohol use is increasing at a rate that should not be tolerated at any age, especially minors. Teenagers begin to drink alcohol in order to fit in, to make friends, or just to be rebellious; Reasons given that really have no justification. Many tend to think that alcohol makes people friendlier, but in reality it can make them more hostile, and more dangerous.

Since the required age for a person to purchase an alcoholic beverage is 21, how is it possible for minors to purchase alcohol? Well, it's easier than we thought. Minors are using fake IDs, asking strangers who are of age to purchase the alcohol for them, or going to establishments that don't ask for the proper identification.

~A study conducted on the accessibility of alcohol to minors revealed that attempts to purchase alcoholic beverages, 97 out of 100 times were successful (Landau 15).

Many underage drinkers drink alcoholic beverages not even considering the consequences that are taking place as they continue to consume, affecting their body, mind, health, as well as actions they perform while intoxicated. Some may be satisfied with the thought that alcohol fills their lives with excitement, fun and relaxation, but in reality alcohol has been identified as a "gateway drug", which is a substance that can lead to abuse of more harmful drugs (Landau 19).

Alcohol produces toxic effects on the body, which can lead to liquor poisoning, which can then lead to death. Not only does alcohol have an impact on the body and mind but it affects society as well as the drinker's family. The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention reports that alcohol is a key factor in up to 68 percent of manslaughter cases, or killings that were not planned in advanced (Wolff 45).

In a survey by the U.S. Bureau of Justice, more than half of convicted prisoners admitted to using alcohol or drugs at the time they committed their crime (45). Even though it seems too extreme that a teenager that is just drinking alcohol to have fun will ever commit a serious crime, that's how it begins. They slowly begin to become dependent on this drug that seems to overpower their judgment. Soon it can seem as though they have a different person inside of them, or a whole different personality.

Alcohol also affects newborn babies, when irresponsible girls continue drinking alcohol while they are pregnant. More than 5 thousand babies are born in the United States each year with FAS, fetal alcohol syndrome (Wolff 51).


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This site was created by Bianca Uriarte in fulfillment of requirements for the course CSS 335: Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2005.