Teenage Drinking is dangerous. And it's bad for your health too!

At any high school party, there most likely will be alcohol. Of course, the legal drinking age is 21, but according to the U.S. Department of Health, in 2002 and 2003, “there were approximately 7.2 million persons under the legal drinking age” who drank alcohol. What is it about drinking alcohol that causes so many underage Americans to break the law? Reasons may vary , but most teens drink because of peer pressure and the desire to fit in.

Health risks

There are obviously many risks that one takes when one drinks, underage or not. For example, alcohol is a considered a depressant because it slows the functions of the central nervous system. It is still not known how alcohol affects memory and learning skills of those who drink heavily as a teens, but excessive alcohol use may make school performance worse. Teenagers who drink heavily may also be at higher risk for alcohol abuse as adults.

Being underage is reason enough not to drink, and underage drinking is illegal. Also, alcohol is a highly addictive substance, and over-consumption can happy quickly. Most teens have not learned their limits yet, and drink more than their bodies can handle. This can cause alcohol poisoning, which causes vomiting, unconsciousness, difficulty breathing, dangerously low blood sugar, seizures and possibly death. In addition, alcohol can lead to fatal car accidents, which puts the teen at risk as well as those unknowing drivers around him or her. It does not take much alcohol to impair driving ability. In addition, teens who drink can die from homicide, suicide and other accidents.

Aside from getting sick and breaking the law, another fact about drinking is that all alcoholic beverages (even the “light” kinds) contain many calories and carbohydrates. Let’s look at the calories and carbohydrates in beer:

Brand Name
Calories Carbohydrates (g)
Budweiser 145 10.6
Coors Light 102 5
Miller 143 13.1
Michelob 155 13.3
Heineken 150 11.5
Corona 148 14

And here’s just a look at a few cocktails:

Types
Calories
Carbohydrates (g)
Gin and Tonic 200 4
Bloody Mary 180 4
Margarita up to 500 up to 10
Long Island Iced Tea up to 550 up to 11

Melissa Ohlson, MS, RD, Nutrition Program Coordinator of Preventive Cardiology says that “in addition to the health risks, drinking alcohol tacks on a lot of extra calories.” It takes a lot of exercise to work off all of the calories. 

So, why drink alcoholic beverages and intake all of these calories when for the same amount of calories you could treat yourself to chocolate or ice cream?

Drinking can potentially cause many long-term health problems that may not show up until adulthood. More than 2 million Americans have been diagnosed with alcohol-related liver disease. You could get alcoholic hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), alcoholic cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), or liver cancer. Drinking can also cause heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and different types of cancer (esophagus, mouth, throat and larynx (voice box). Lastly, drinking can potentially cause pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

So, before you drink - take this message to heart - and to your health!

To see statistics, and learn more about drinking please visit:

When to Call

If you are concerned about how your alcohol use is affecting your health and your relationships with others, learn more about the Cleveland Clinic Alcohol and Drug Recovery Center's (ADRC) Adolescent Treatment Program

Reviewed: 12/13