Unit 4 Understanding and Avoiding Hazardous Substances Copyright Goodheart-Willcox Co., Inc. 278 Consequences of Underage Drinking Underage drinkers, or those under 21 years of age, account for 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States. In fact, alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States. Young people who drink alcohol are at greater risk of experiencing the following problems: • Physical problems. Hangovers, illnesses, and injuries may result from alcohol consumption. These physical problems can interfere with school and social relationships. • School problems. Young people who consume alcohol may experience more school absences, difficulty focusing in class, and declining or failing grades. These consequences can have a negative impact on future educational plans, such as going to a technical school or university (Figure 9.7). • Family and social problems. Alcohol use can cause strained relationships with family and friends. Feelings of guilt and fear may result from disappointing their loved ones. Young people may also withdraw from sports, clubs, or other extracurricular activities. • Legal problems. Alcohol use is illegal for those younger than 21 years of age. Youth who use alcohol can be arrested. This arrest could appear on a young person’s permanent record and affect his or her future life and career goals. Alcohol use can also lead to unsafe behaviors with long-term effects. Young people who drink alcohol are more likely to start abusing other drugs. Even drinking small amounts can lead to long-term problems with alcohol. In fact, people who start drinking before 15 years of age are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking as adults. Pandora Studio/Shutterstock.com Figure 9.7 Young people who do not engage in underage drinking have a higher success rate of achieving their school and career goals than young people who do drink alcohol.