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By the time teens and young adults head to high school or college, it is quite common to see plenty of alcohol consumption at parties or other social occasions. Think about people in your classes. How many of them drink alcohol on a fairly regular basis? While it is acceptable to drink a little bit socially when you are old enough to do so, alcohol abuse can be very dangerous. Apart from harming yourself in many ways, you may also pose a danger to other people around you. This guide will help to introduce some of the key facts about alcohol use among young adults and its effects.

Alcohol Statistics

Over the past decade, three-fourths of people in their early twenties drank alcohol regularly, as well as people between eighteen to twenty. Moreover, they were drinking much more than the recommended amounts. On average, studies show that when young adults do drink alcohol, especially at social events, the average is around five drinks and up. Even though it is illegal for those under twenty-one to drink alcohol, 86.1% of the US population admitted that they had indeed done so before they were of age.

Alcohol Abuse

Responsible drinking could be drinking a single glass of wine with dinner, or enjoying a beer with friends at a sports game. However, over time, many people become addicted to alcohol. In some cases, it is more likely when addiction is present in previous generations of the family. Either way, alcohol addiction can be caused by dependence or by abuse. In the former case, alcoholism is caused when a person drinks so much constantly that their body develops a need for it. Alcohol abuse is when someone neglects their work or other responsibilities simply because they need to drink. Drinking and driving is one of the best-known examples of alcohol abuse. For young people, alcohol abuse negatively affects their schoolwork and grades, as well as relationships with friends and family.

Alcohol and Health

People often use alcohol to help them relax because in fact, it is a depressant. This means that it affects our central nervous systems so that perception and senses are slowed down or dulled. Drinking too much can cause people to have trouble talking and walking. They might become confused or irrationally angry or sad. Their thinking and judgment becomes impaired so that they cannot make smart or immediate decisions. When people continue to drink beyond this point, they could have alcohol poisoning. In this case, they start vomiting and may have seizures, unconsciousness, or trouble breathing. If they are not treated immediately, they could even die. On a long-term basis, binge drinking damages vital organs including the brain, liver, and reproductive organs, causes weight gain, skin problems, and increases cancer risk. Women who drink during a pregnancy also affect the baby. The condition known as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAC) includes an array of physical and mental defects. To know how much alcohol is safe for your body size and weight, calculate the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).

Alcohol Laws and Policies

All countries have different laws regarding alcohol use. In the United States, people are only legally allowed to drink after they have turned twenty-one years old. This means that they also cannot buy alcohol if they are underage. Additionally, licensed establishments are not allowed to sell it to underage people. In many states, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of over 0.15. This limit varies in some states, falling between 0.16 to 0.20. Some areas have a zero tolerance law, meaning that alcohol is not permissible when driving no matter the amount. Driving under the influence (DUI) is usually punishable by license suspension, vehicle confiscation or sanctions (such as interlocking devices), as well as fines and sometimes a prison sentence depending on the severity of the crime. Even with these legal limits in place, it is generally best not to drive if you have been drinking. To stay on the safe side, always arrange for a designated driver in advance, or call a taxi.

Additional Resources

Additional information on alcohol use for people of all ages can be found in the following links.