The Dangers of Underage Drinking
As you are most likely aware, in the United States, any consumption of alcohol of an individual under the age of 21 is strictly against the law. Drinking underage comes with serious legal consequences including mandatory community service, suspended license, fines and potential time in jail. Not only do underage drinkers put themselves in danger, but they also put others in jeopardy if they get behind the wheel or exhibit violent behavior.
Statistically, teens consume most of their alcohol by binge drinking. Meaning, they consume an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time, often with the goal of “getting drunk.”
Social hosting refers to adults who either knowingly or unknowingly host underage drinking on their property. The danger of social hosting for adults is that it does not matter who supplied the alcohol, it’s all about the owner of the property the crime of underage drinking is being committed on.
In Illinois, the Social Host Law, which went into effect January 1, 2013, holds adults accountable for underage drinking that occurs in their home. If a minor who had been drinking at your house injures or kills someone, you are guilty of a Class 4 felony. This could result in a fine and/or jail time.
Alcohol Use Disorders in Teens
While it can be difficult to determine whether a child is “just experimenting” or if they are struggling with drinking to the point of an alcohol use disorder, an alcohol use is an issue when the child is underage.
If you are concerned about you or someone you love, it’s best to get an assessment from a professional. If you are worried drinking habits are bordering an alcohol use disorder, consider the following:
- Has the individual’s drinking or hangovers interfered with their responsibilities, such as a job, school, home or sports?
- Has there been times when the individual has ended up drinking more or longer than they intended?
- Have they wanted to cut down or stop drinking, tried to, but couldn’t?
Have they more than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased their chances of getting hurt (such as driving, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex) or harming others?
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