Many young people are curious about drinking, and studies show that over half of all high school students have at least tried alcohol by their senior year. Which leads some to ask, why would someone under 21 choose not to drink?
Aside from the legal consequences, there are many reasons not to drink. Drinking slows your reaction time and clouds your thinking. And research has shown that young people get drunk twice as quickly as adults. This means you might not be able to drive or even walk yourself home safely. It means you’re more likely to get caught drinking by your parents. And it means that someone could take advantage of you—date rape happens more often when alcohol is involved.
Drinking also puts you at a higher risk for embarrassing yourself. Your reputation can recover from saying no to a drink, but it might not recover from doing something dumb at a party, like throwing up on your crush from math class, hooking up with someone you don’t know (and putting yourself at risk for an STI) or breaking your wrist stumbling down stairs.
Research has even shown that consuming alcohol before your mid-20s can damage brain growth. Not only could you do worse in school, if you do enough damage to your brain, you may create a gap you can’t bridge when you’re older. Alcohol can literally make you dumber.
Binge drinking is typically defined as men consuming 5 or more drinks or women consuming 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours. People of any age can be at risk if they are binge drinking.
With binge drinking comes an increased risk for alcohol-related injury. You people face an even higher risk because they often combine alcohol with other high-risk activities – like impaired driving.
- Avoid situations where there will be alcohol.
- Avoid situations where there will be pressure to drink.
- Avoid situations where you won’t be able to get away from pressure to drink. For example, don’t go to a party where you only have one friend who can drive you home.
- If you find yourself in a situation where someone offers you alcohol, say no and mean it. If the pressure continues, act indifferent and/or walk away.