The Sobriety Rocks Scholarship Contest promotes creativity and the sharing of ideas among Kansas teens, who hold the key to solving this problem.
- Alcohol is the drug of choice for Kansas youth.
- There were 456 alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes involving young drivers (ages 15-20) in Kansas in 2010 that killed 23 persons and injured 313 others.
- Youth who drink before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become dependent on alcohol as adults.
- 96% of adult alcoholics began drinking before they were 21.
- 65% of kids who drink get their alcohol from family and friends.
- You don't have to drink to be in the majority. In 2011, only 32% of 8th-12th graders in Kansas reported drinking in the previous 30 days.
An adolescent’s decision to use alcohol is influenced by many factors, some physical, some emotional and some environmental. These factors also influence each other. They include—
- The social systems in which teens live
- The increase in risk-taking that usually accompanies adolescence
- Decreased parental supervision and greater independence
- Increased time spent alone and with peers
- Increased stress
- What adolescents see and hear about alcohol
Underage drinking is a major cause of death from injuries among young people.
Each year, approximately 5,000 people under age 21 die as a result of underage drinking; this includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a result of homicides, 300 from suicide and hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns, and drownings.1
It can harm the growing brain. We know that the immature brain is more easily damaged by alcohol, at least temporarily. The extent to which the damage is permanent is still being researched.
It can affect the body in many ways.
The effects of alcohol range from hangovers to death from alcohol poisoning—an increasingly common occurrence.
It can lead to other problems.These may include bad grades in school, run-ins with the law and drug use.
It affects how well a young person judges risk and makes sound decisions. The immature brain is much more sensitive to alcohol than the mature brain. This is compounded by the fact that the part of the brain still maturing is the pre-frontal cortex, the seat of decision-making and risk assessment. For example, after drinking, a teen may see nothing wrong with driving a car or riding with a driver who has been drinking, whereas, before drinking, the teen might realize the riskiness involved.
It plays a role in risky sexual activity.People do things when they are under the influence of alcohol—even a small amount—that they would not do when they are sober, including having sex even when they didn't want to and had not planned to do so. This behavior can increase the chance of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.
1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General. (2007).The Surgeon General's Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking: A Guide to Action for Families (PDF 900KB) p. 10.
In addition to serious health and safety concerns, there can be other consequences to underage drinking, including—
- A misdemeanor for minor in possession and a $200-$500 fine.
- Loss of driver's license for 30 days.
- Ineligibility for extra-curricular activities, including sports.
- A black mark that could prevent a student from getting into an honor society, earning a scholarship or getting into their choice of college.