Youth Alcohol Usage

Gwyneth Tabor, Journalist

The rates for youth alcohol usage have gone up since 2019. Nowadays teens drinking alcohol are very common. Sadly they either do it because of peer pressure or to look cool. What can we do to help and show teens what alcohol can do to your bodies? Let’s talk.

Alcohol is the most widely used substance among America’s teens and young adults, posing substantial health and safety risks. Teens try alcohol for many reasons; they feel pressured (peer pressure). They want to look cool, to escape from stress, even sometimes boredom is to blame. Especially when at parties, teens think if they get drunk they will look like a cool person. Teens don’t understand what alcohol can do to their bodies. There are so many things that can happen to your body from drinking alcohol. According to a poll of high school students, within the past 30 days 29% drank alcohol, 14% binge drank, 5% of drivers drove after consuming alcohol, 17% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol. Males had higher rates of binge drinking in 2019. Female high school students were more likely to drink alcohol and binge drink than male high school students in 2019 (

I asked three people a few questions about alcohol. The first person I asked was Officer Perna, an Ipswich Police Officer who works in the school. I asked him what percentage of teenagers get in trouble for drinking and driving? He responded, “I don’t know the percentage of teens who get into trouble for drinking and driving but MA has a Zero Tolerance Law meaning that teens can’t drink any amount of alcohol and legally drive a vehicle.  There are also enhanced penalties from the  Registry of Motor Vehicles for teens who drink and drive.” I also asked him, “Do you think teenage drinking is a problem?” He answered, “Yes, teenage drinking is a problem because it is viewed as a social norm and that it is ok to do.  And of course, teenage drinking is a problem because it’s illegal.” I asked, “What do you wish teenagers knew about underage drinking?” He replied with, “I wish that teenagers fully understood why the legal drinking age is 21 and why they should wait until 21 to try alcohol.  Scientific studies have found that your brain continues to develop until you are in your mid twenties and alcohol and drugs dramatically impact your brain development.  Similar studies have found a direct connection to adult drug and alcohol dependence/addiction and early onset of usage.  Essentially, the earlier you experiment with drugs and alcohol, the more likely you are to become addicted later in life.” Obviously, teenage drinking is an issue, but what are some ways we can show kids what the alcohol can do to their body?

The second person I asked was my dad Joseph Tabor. The first question I asked him was, “At what age did you start drinking?” He commented, “I was thirteen years old when I started drinking.” The next question I asked was, “What appealed to you about alcohol?” He responded with, “What appealed to me was the feeling that the alcohol gave me.” I then asked, “Did you drink alone or with friends?” He replied, “The beginning of my drinking I drank with friends; the end of my drinking I drank alone.” Lastly I asked, “Did your parents drink?” He said, “My father was an alcoholic, but my mom never drank.” Take it from my dad who is a recovering alcoholic, alcohol can either kill you or your organs. You can also become addicted very easily and it can damage your brain. You shouldn’t be drinking just to look cool or feel popular. You shouldn’t even legally be drinking until you’re 21.

The last person I interviewed was an anonymous teenager. The first question I asked them was, “Why do you think teenagers drink alcohol?” They replied with, “I think teenagers drink alcohol because it gives them a sense of control that they have over themselves. It also can be a way to rebel.” The last question I asked was, “Did your parents talked to you about the risk of underage drinking?” They responded with, “Yes, somewhat about driving under the influence. I hear a lot of it myself.” Even a teenager knows that alcohol isn’t an answer to making friends or trying to be cool or even feeling good. There are so many things you can do besides drinking alcohol.

Adults who had taken their first drink of alcohol before the age of 15 were 6.5 times more likely to experience an alcohol use disorder than those who didn’t start drinking before age 21. Car crashes are the leading cause of death among American teens. Many such crashes are linked to teen drunk driving. Being drunk causes many of the same impairments in teens as in adults, including slowed motor functions, slowed reaction time, blurry vision, and distorted perception. Alcohol can also cause blackouts. During a blackout, a person is completely unaware of his or her surroundings and actions. An overly drunk teen may not remember how her night ended. 

Teen drinking and driving statistics show that: Teen drunk driving accidents occur in 20% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes. The blood alcohol level in these teens was higher than the adult legal limit in 81% of cases. Teens drink and drive about 2.4 million times a month; About 10% of teens in high school will drink and drive. About 85% of teens in high school who drink and drive also binge drink.

Alcohol usage is a huge problem. The only thing we can really do for teens to see what is actually happening to their bodies when they drink alcohol is to show them articles and have them read and research what can happen to your body if you drink alcohol. It’s pretty sad because that’s how our society is these days.