Underage drinking is a serious problem affecting many young people across the world. This problem occurs when people below the minimum drinking age engage in alcohol drinking. In United States, the minimum drinking age is 21 years. Any person drinking alcohol below that age is considered to be engaging in underage drinking. Many young people experience a lot of negative effects as a result of underage drinking. Therefore, underage problem is one of the leading public health problems in America and other parts of the world. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests that 5,000 people below the minimum drinking age of 21 die annually as a result of underage drinking (NIH, 2006). This figure reduced to 4,300 deaths annually by 2013, but still remains a serious public problem. These deaths include those who die in road accidents; those who die due to homicide; and those who die due to suicide. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also claim that people aged between 10 and 20 years are responsible for 11% of the alcohol consumed in United States (CDC, 2014). To make the problem even worse, underage drinkers often drink more than adults in each occasion, and engage in 90% binge drinking (CDC, 2014).
Underage drinkers are also likely to engage in unprotected sex, become violent, develop alcoholic addiction in future, and perform poorly in education (NIH, 2006). It also results in health problems. Alcohol drinking affects the central nervous system, causing some body functions to slow down in their routine functions. Sometimes drinkers may even become unconscious. Despite these consequences of the problem, young people continue drinking alcohol illegally and exceedingly. This calls for necessary solutions to be developed to help young people to overcome the problem of alcohol drinking and reduce the number of deaths and other consequences associated with the problem. Alcohol drinking among underage people can be reduced by using preventive measures more than treatment.
Generally, everyone in the society should work with others to change the culture of underage drinking. As a preventive measure, the community at large should collaborate in the fight against alcoholism (NIH, 2006). Parents, grandparents, teachers and friends have a collective responsibility to help an affected victim to overcome the problem. The decisions that children make can be influenced by friends, parents, grandparents, teachers and other members of the community. The society should provide sufficient levels of control and advice to young children in order to enable them to develop coping skills and become responsible members of the community. Family institutions should also be strengthened by developing routine practices and embracing moral responsibility through holiday celebrations, teaching Christian and moral ethics, and advising the young people about what the law says on underage drinking (McCarthy, 2013). In order for children to take control of their lives and avoid peer influence that leads to underage drinking, parents, teachers and other community leaders should work together to instill moral principles and good decision making skills on the young people. This entails creating an environment that protects underage people from drinking.
The government can also play a role in solving the problem of underage drinking by enforcing the law on the issue strictly (McCarthy, 2013). For example, underage people found drinking should be punished severely to serve as an example to others who plan to engage in underage drinking. The government may also establish rehabilitation centers for those who are into the habit of underage drinking in order to bring them back to normal life. The government should also increase its funding for the organizations advocating for no-drinking habits.
CDC (2014). Fact Sheets: Underage drinking. Accessed July 18, 2015 from http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/underage-drinking.htm
McCarthy, C. (2013). Four Ways Parents Can Prevent Underage Drinking. Huffington Post. Accessed July 18, 2015 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/claire-mccarthy-md/underage-drinking_b_2582113.html.
NIH (2006). Underage Drinking: Why Do Adolescents Drink, What Are the Risks, and How Can Underage Drinking Be Prevented? Accessed July 18, 2015 from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA67/AA67.htm.