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The dangers of underage drinking for teens and preteens

Many parents of teens and even preteens would be shocked to learn just how easy it is for their kids to get ahold of alcohol. The dangers of overconsumption of alcohol for young people can be particularly dangerous because they may not know when to say when.

As one doctor notes, the frontal lobe in many teens is not fully developed, so their decision-making skills still need some work. Of course, as with most everyone, alcohol can also impact reaction time, balance, motor concentration, concentration and attention.

Binge drinking, which is defined as consuming at least four drinks within an hour, can be deadly. For one 15-year-old Columbus, Georgia boy, authorities say that overconsumption of alcohol contributed to his death in September. The teen was fatally struck and killed. According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, he had a blood alcohol content of nearly three times the legal limit.

Peer pressure is one key cause of underage drinking. So are cultural influences. The "glamour" of drinking is everywhere, from television to movies to advertisements. According to a survey by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, over seven million young people between 12 and 20 reported having had "beyond just a few sips," while over five million reported binge drinking at least once a month.

Substance abuse experts recommend that parents talk with their kids about the dangers of drinking as soon as they get into high school, if not sooner. Aside from the physical dangers, they could face legal consequences.

Underage drinking is against the law. While many parents may be tempted to let their kids spent some time in juvenile detention to teach them a lesson, one person who works for an organization that treats young people with addictions advises against that. "These are children," he says.

It's important to find out what influences have caused your child to drink and deal with the issue before it gets out of control. This time of year, when alcohol is prevalent at holiday gatherings, that conversation is particularly important.

If your child is facing underage drinking charges, it's advisable to get experienced legal guidance to help mitigate the consequences of the arrest. Your attorney can also recommend resources that can help your child prevent one unfortunate incident from becoming a pattern.

Source: WTVM, "SPECIAL REPORT: Underage drinking presents problems for teens," Jose Zozaya, Nov. 17, 2016