YOUTH LEADER making a Difference

Alcohol Offenses in Adolescents

By Amy Chun, 11 th Grade, Bergen County Academies

One of the most prevalent problems in society is drug abuse in adolescents,
especially in the case of alcohol consumption. Even though teenagers should know that the
use of drugs is illegal, they still continue to use it for various purposes. For instance, teens
are at a sensitive period in their lives since they can be easily influenced by peer pressure.
Due to this, teens might begin to binge drink and become unable to stop their consumption
of drugs. Some of the effects that arise from alcohol and other drug abuse are behavioral
issues such as depression and violence. Therefore, not only is this underage consumption
against the law, but it is also a concern for mental and physical health.
Even though teens are taught that drugs are harmful and its underage consumption
is illegal, they are still influenced by a variety of factors, such as peer pressure. This is
because of their transition from childhood to young adulthood, which comes with more
independence and some extent of freedom to make choices individually. Research also
shows that teens, who go through a crucial developmental period, might be inclined to seek
potentially dangerous situations that lead them to alcohol consumption. This thrill-seeking
seems exciting to these young adults, blinding them from their knowledge of the negative
consequences of drugs. In addition, adolescents are particularly sensitive to the “positive”
effects of drinking alcohol, such as feeling more at ease in social situations, which might
incline them to keep consuming the drug (“Underage Drinking”). Other studies have shown
that teens who consume drugs and alcohol share similar characteristics regarding their
personalities. These traits include rebelliousness, disruptiveness, hyperactivity, depression,
and the like (Tee). Moreover, the pleasure that teens experience after they do drugs and

drink alcohol for the first time leads them to express dependence and often a behavioral
change for the worse.
From the first time they drink alcohol, teens are at risk for numerous health
problems. Some of these include adverse effects on the liver, brain, and the endocrine
system. It is widely known that alcohol has a significant effect on the liver and excessive
consumption can lead to detrimental consequences. Studies have shown that elevated liver
enzymes, a sign of damaged liver tissue, have been found in adolescents who consume
alcohol. On the other hand, microscale effects on the brain are difficult to pinpoint, but
drinking definitely has a negative influence on an adolescent’s long-term memory and
thinking skills. Especially because adolescents have brains that are still developing,
measuring the extent of damage that can arise becomes a complex issue on the macroscale.
In terms of effects on the endocrine system for teens, puberty is associated with hormonal
changes that are needed for proper organ development and drinking can interfere with this
process. Research shows that alcohol consumption during puberty leads to adverse effects
in the maturation of the reproductive system (“Underage Drinking”). Therefore, with these
negative consequences of drinking, it should be the obvious choice to stop underage
drinking as soon as possible.
Not only does drinking lead to health problems, but it also leads to behavioral
changes as well. In other words, there is a strong correlation between the use of alcohol
and emotional problems. For instance, some teens who drink alcohol are associated with
fighting, stealing, driving under influence, skipping school, and feeling depressed. As
compared to teens who do not consume alcohol, those who continuously drink it are five
times more likely to run away from home. In addition, these problematic teens are about

seven times more likely to have been arrested or charged for breaking the law. They are
three times more likely to deliberately harm or kill themselves, as well (Tee). From these
statistics, action against underage drinking should be taken as soon as possible. Especially
since adolescents are at a very sensitive period in their lives, drinking alcohol might make
them more impulsive and encourage them to make the wrong choices. Moreover, it should
be a priority to prevent these adverse behavioral changes and instead provide resources
for recovery and a healthier lifestyle.
Overall, the issue of underage drinking and drug consumption holds significance
today and should be combatted effectively. Although teens do know that alcohol and drugs
have adverse effects on their bodies and on their mental state, they still insist upon
engaging in these detrimental habits for a variety of reasons. With the presence of peer
pressure and the freedom that comes with the transition from childhood to adulthood, it is
easy for teens to be sucked into a trap that leads to the world of drug abuse. Stemming
from this are the countless health dangers that underage drinking causes, such as organ
damage and interference in reproductive system development. In other words, alcohol
upsets hormonal changes during puberty, creating an imbalance that adversely affects the
body. In addition to the physical aspect of the consequences of drinking come the
psychological effects that lead to behavioral changes. Consuming alcohol can lead teens to
become depressed and influence them to take dangerous risks. Because of these reasons,
underage drinking should be confronted and stopped with legal action in order to preserve
the health and happiness of adolescents.

Works Cited
Tee, Buddy. “The Science Behind Teen Drinking and Behavior Problems.” VerywellMind,
“Underage Drinking.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2006,