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Georgia health advocates: Underage drinking is dangerous, costly

Underage drinking may seem like a minor offense. But what some teens don't realize is that drinking alcohol at a young age may lead to serious struggles with addiction in the future.

Addiction is not only harmful to one's health, but this could also result in serious legal problems. Folks who suffer from alcohol addiction might make the poor choice of getting behind the wheel after drinking without even realizing that they are intoxicated. This could result in a serious car accident and underage drunk driving charge.

According to several health professionals and advocates in Georgia, binge drinking and underage drinking are serious problems amongst teens. These professionals are asking that more schools, parents and communities understand how underage and binge drinking can lead to serious physical and mental health problems amongst teens. By understanding how dangerous this can be, health professionals hope that folks will take a proactive approach to better educate teens about the dangers of underage drinking.

Professors, health professionals and researchers in Georgia claim that about 40 percent of children, teens and young adults in our state between the ages of 9 and 21 have tried drinking alcohol. Nearly 70 percent of high school students have admitted to drinking their first alcoholic beverage by the age of 13.

Drinking alcohol in excessive amounts at a young age can lead to brain damage and cause memory problems. Frequent underage drinking can also lead to addiction. Underage drinking is illegal, which can result in costly fines for teens as well. According to statistics, underage drinking costs in Georgia exceeded $1.5 billion in 2007.

Health experts and advocates believe that educating teens about the dangers of alcohol abuse may be able to help some folks live healthier lifestyles. Promoting healthier lifestyles might help to reduce the occurrence of drunk driving and DUI arrests in our state as well.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle, "Event to explore prevention of alcohol use by area's young," Martha Tingen, Ph.D.,Julie Miller, M.P.A.,Kendra Piper, M.P.H.,and Chris Ellington, M.S.P.H., July 29, 2012