The New Face of Underage Drinking

Preventing underage drinking is becoming more difficult as popular trends and fads are increasing alcohol consumption among teens. Michelle Nienhius, a Prevention Consultant with the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, points out in a recent article that young people are going to great lengths to obtain alcohol. This includes risky behavior that can turn deadly. One such behavior is called eyeballing. This is where the drinker puts a shot of alcohol in his or her eye. Another is Chilly Willy which involves alcohol being sucked up the nose. Other, more extreme drinkers, are soaking tampons in alcohol and inserting them or even drinking hand sanitizer. Neienhius advises adults to be diligent in their fight against underage drinking. Adults need to be observant and stay abreast on the popular trends and fads. Social media has allowed youth to share in their experiences and teach each other different ways to obtain alcohol and get drunk faster. Another problem is that alcoholic beverages are always changing and constantly evolving. That’s why many adults wouldn’t be able to recognize some of the new alcoholic beverages. Marketing efforts have also become clever in making the appearances of bottles more appealing, attracting younger audiences. Once out of its packaging, alcohol is even more difficult to detect than in years past. The number of mixed drinks on the market has made knowing the difference between (hard) lemonade and regular lemonade that much more difficult for example. The same could be said for fruit punches and colored sodas. Factor in the containers size and you have another problem: larger sizes, higher consumption. Many alcoholic beverages are coming in 12 to 60-ounce containers which only encourages greater consumption. For example, traditional beer cans contain 12 ounces of fluid with a 5 percent alcohol content. Compare that to some specialty beers that are 24 ounces and contain 12 percent alcohol content. And because these types of drinks come with a pop top, experts warn that it subconsciously sends the message that it should be consumed right away. Harsh criticism of these practices has caused manufacturers to switch their canning options to include screw top cans. These offer the option to “sip” and put in the fridge for later. But a lot of kids funnel their drinks anyway, chugging them through a “bong”. It’s amazing the great lengths kids will go through to obtain and consume alcohol but are manufacturers making it easy for them? Mixed drinks are available in an easy-to-carry pouch and metal bottles make them hard to spot. There are also products on the market that aid in hiding alcohol. Then there are companies making alcoholic Popsicle, ice cream, and whipped cream. If the companies aren’t marketing toward kids themselves they are definitely aimed at reaching many people’s childhood nostalgia. There is chocolate milk alcoholic drinks available as well as wine with Hello Kitty labels. Not only does underage drinking put young people at risk in the interim but sets them up for health issues and possible addiction in their adulthood. When youth start drinking before they reach 15, they are four times more likely to becoming dependent on alcohol and nearly 3 percent more likely to abuse alcohol by 21.

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