21 Why Wait? | Teen Ink

21 Why Wait?

February 25, 2010
By NIC0L3R0S3 BRONZE, Sylmar, California
NIC0L3R0S3 BRONZE, Sylmar, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Caidin Mckeever, a well-loved seventeen year old who enjoyed dirt biking, mountain biking, snowboarding and trout fishing, died on June 23, 2009. McKeever was driving on Route 2 in Plainfield, Vermont when he left the road and collided head-on with a tree. He died at the scene. Two of his passengers were severely injured with cuts to the face and chest fractures. Two other passengers suffered minor injuries. Toxicology reports show McKeever had a Blood alcohol content of .08% which is considered to be legally drunk.

Mckeever and his friends aren’t the only one who has been affected by teen drinking according to the US Surgeon General, about 5,000 kids under the age of twenty-one die every year as a result of underage drinking - from crashes, homicides, or suicides.

Sixteen percent of eighth graders, 29% of high school sophomores, and 43% of high school seniors admit to recently drinking. Apparently teens do not have good self control because teens don’t just drink they drink in excess. 8% of eighth graders, 16% of sophomores, and 24% of seniors report recent binge drinking - Which is 5 or more drinks on the same occasion.

Teenagers experience a large amount of peer pressure to start drinking, but when you look at all the effects of alcohol is it worth it? About 1,900 people under the age of twenty-one die every year, from car crashes involving underage drinking. Are you willing to jeopardize your life, just to fit in?

Although pressure from peers is one enabler of underage drinking it is not the only enabler. In a 2008 government survey of underage drinkers 12 to 20, 69% of them said that they obtained alcohol without having to pay for it, by parents or other family members.

According to the US Surgeon General 92% of high school seniors say that getting alcohol is “very easy”. Although drinking maybe be fun at the time, the long lasting affects are not so fun. The age when drinking starts affects future drinking problems. For each year that the start of drinking is postponed, the risk of later alcohol dependence is reduced by 14%. Research shows that the human brain keeps on developing until a person’s early 20’s, and the exposure of the developing brain to alcohol may have long lasting effects on the intellectual capabilities. Your brain isn’t the only thing that suffers. In some adolescents who drink alcohol, elevated liver enzymes, indicating some degree of liver damage, have been found.

Although it’s not clear whether drinking leads to academic failure; a government study published in 2007 shows a relationship between binge drinking and grades. Roughly two-thirds of students with “mostly A’s” are non-drinkers, while nearly half of the students with “mostly D’s and F’s” report binge drinking.

Some teens use stress or are going through hard times as an excuse to drink, saying that they think they need something to calm them, or take the pain away, but alcohol won’t help any. According to dontserveteens.gov a national campaign to prevent underage drinking, alcohol use interacts with conditions like depression and stress, and contributes to an increase in teen suicide. Rather than alcohol you can take a walk/walk your dog, sing along with music, draw a picture, or dance to your favorite music.

These are just a few of the negative effects that alcohol can have on teenagers and for these reasons I believe that teens should wait until they are at least twenty-one until they start drinking.

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