Alcohol affects youths differently from adults because the adolescent brain is still developing.
When adolescents consume alcohol, brain development is damaged both in the short term and long term and increases vulnerability to addiction. Young people who begin drinking before age 17 are twice as likely to develop alcohol dependence as those who begin drinking at age 21. Those who begin by age 15 are more than four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence.
Alcohol kills 6.5 times more youth in this country than all other illegal drugs combined.
Having designated drivers or taking away the car keys doesn’t make underage drinking safe. Only one-third of underage drinking deaths involve auto crashes. The remaining two-thirds involve alcohol poisoning, homicides, suicides and unintentional injuries such as burns, drowning and falls. Other consequences include risk of academic failure and dropping out of school, depression, sexual assault, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and diseases, and other drug abuse including marijuana, tobacco and prescription drugs.
Washington County: One Community is very concerned about our youth and underage drinking in Washington County.
We employ several strategies to reduce youth access to alcohol and reduce the risk of underage drinking:
WC:OC in collaboration with local law enforcement agencies, formed the Washington County Law Enforcement Task Force (WCLETF) to address underage drinking and other substance abuse issues within Washington County. The WCLETF is working to reduce underage drinking and related public safety problems by increasing consistent enforcement of underage drinking, hosting, and furnishing laws and providing opportunities for multi-jurisdictional collaboration officer trainings, public education and media advocacy for underage drinking enforcement. Officers have been patrolling spots known for underage drinking parties, such as gravel pits, camps and homes.