Alcohol is a widely used and abused by young people in the United States. Underage drinking is a problem that needs to be stopped, but there’s no clear change that will seem to fix it. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has completed a great deal of studies on alcohol and young people in the United States and other countries.
According to the NIAAA, about 50% of teens have had a drink by the age of 15. About 70% have had a drink by age 18. There is no doubt that alcohol is a taboo topic in American homes, but this may be having an adverse effect on the teens of America. Kids ages 12-20 consume 11% of all of the alcohol in the United States. Out of that percentage, about 10% of that alcohol is consumed in the practice of binge drinking (defined as drinking 5 or more drinks in one sitting). If we take those numbers and calculate them against the population of America, 6.9 million underage kids have had more than 5 drinks in one sitting in the past month. Furthermore, 5,000 kids die each year because of alcohol poisoning and drinking. Alcohol is a serious problem that needs to be solved for the young people of today.
When the National Drinking Age Act was passed in 1984, many people thought that it was a victory against the deaths of young people. Although this fact cannot be proven, the Act did save an estimated 17,000 lives since it was passed. However, some people believe that because drinking is such a taboo topic, kids are more likely to binge drink in secret. They believe that underage drinking has increased because of the Act.
To try and understand ages and the correlation they have to alcohol related deaths, we need to look to European countries. In many countries, the legal alcohol age is 18. In addition, the culture and family environments are much more accepting and open of alcohol. Many people believe this reduces binge drinking tendencies because of the positive examples of responsible, normal drinking. Studies show that a greater amount of people have been drunk before the age 13 in European countries than those in the USA. However, Italy (drinking age 16), Iceland (drinking age 20), and Belgium (drinking age 15) have had lower percentages of binge drinking in 15-16 year old kids compared to America.
Preventing underage drinking depends on social, environmental, genetics, and personality characteristics. There are many possible ways that could potentially stop drinking in underage kids. Some people believe that zero-tolerance laws are necessary to make alcohol harder to access. Others believe that talking to schools and parents can raise awareness in young people and change how they view alcohol.
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