Alcohol and Underage Drinking

The U.S. Health and Human Services’ Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that if you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, drinking should be limited to one (1) standard drink per day for women or two (2) standard drinks per day for men. According to these guidelines, people who should not drink alcoholic beverages at all include children and adolescents (under the age of 21); individuals of any age who cannot limit their drinking to low level; women who may become pregnant or who are pregnant; individuals who plan to drive, operate machinery, or take part in other activities that require attention, skill, or coordination; individuals taking prescription or over-the-counter medications that can interact with alcohol; individuals with certain medical conditions; or persons recovering from alcoholism.

 

Underage drinking is alcohol consumption by anyone under the age of 21 years of age. Studies suggest that teens that have their first drink before age 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol dependent at some point in their lives than those that wait until they are 21 to drink.

There may be several warning signs of underage alcohol use that can help you spot an alcohol problem. These may include behavioral changes (e.g., school problems, rebellion against family rules, switching friends, sloppy appearance, lack of involvement in former interests); emotional changes (e.g., mood changes, irritability, defensiveness, ‘nothing matters’ attitude); mental changes (e.g., memory lapses, poor concentration); or physical changes (e.g., low energy, bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination, slurred speech).

 

If you suspect that your child has a serious drinking problem, don’t hesitate to get professional support and help. Call the Lifeways at 541-889-9167 for additional information.

 

References

Lane County website Prevention Lane at http://www.preventionlane.org/

Search Institute website, ParentFurther at http://www.parentfurther.com/

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Substance Abuse & Mental Health Administration, “Too Smart to Start” at http://www.toosmarttostart.samhsa.gov/Start.aspx