Even though it’s illegal to drink alcohol until you’re 21, you may think about trying alcohol before then. Before you make any decisions about drinking, be sure you know the facts. Check out the information on this page to learn the facts about alcohol and how to protect yourself from the harm that it can cause. Stay In The Know about Alcohol Exposed !

Find your own voice and reason for refusing alcohol! Nah. My coach would kick me off the team if he found out. No way! My parents would ground me for life! Not for me. Life is hard enough and I don”t need another challenge.! No thanks. I just got my driver’s license and I’d like to keep it. Nope. I’ve got other things to do than to get into a whole lot of trouble!

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Alcohol is made from fruits, vegetables, and grains through a chemical process - involving microscopic elements including yeast, bacteria, and mold - called fermentation.

Alcohol made through the fermentation process is contained in lots of products like:

  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Liquor
  • Mixed drinks (liquor mixed with non-alcohol beverages like juice or cola)

The amount of alcohol can vary greatly among these products. Any amount of alcohol for youth under 21 can be harmful and illegal.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Alcohol impairs normal brain functioning. It “slows down” or changes how the brain responds to the outside world.

As a depressant, the negative effects of alcohol on the brain include:

  • impairment/clouding of judgment and memory
  • slower reflexes and coordination
  • slower reaction time
  • slurred speech
  • increased drowsiness

In larger amounts, alcohol can cause:

  • vomiting
  • difficulty breathing
  • unconsciousness and even death

Research shows that drinking alcohol during the teen years can interfere with the developing brain and increase the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder later in life

  • Bodily injuries can happen. Slower reflexes, trouble walking, and slower reaction times mean greater risks of slips, trips, and falls when alcohol is used. Those slips, trips, and falls can lead to twisted ankles, broken bones, and worse!
  • Greater chances for assaults. Alcohol can affect your ability to make good choices or affect your judgment. That means putting yourself at risk for physical fights or other assaults, including sexual assaults.
  • Troubles with family, friends, school, and the law! Drinking alcohol can hurt relationships with family members and close friends. The use of alcohol can affect performance in school, sports, and other activities. Because it’s against the law to drink alcohol under the age of 21, it can lead to legal problems too.
  • Alcohol problems. People who use and abuse alcohol are at greater risk of developing an addiction to alcohol. Younger users of alcohol are more likely to develop problems with alcohol later in life

No. Most Frederick County youth did not report alcohol or drug use in the past 30 days.

*Nearly 7 out of 10 high school students (68.1%) reported no alcohol use in the past 30 days. Also, youth in Frederick County and youth across the State of Maryland report drinking less alcohol over the past two years!

*Source: 2016 Maryland Youth Risk Behavior Survey

Even though more and more teens are reporting less alcohol use, it sometimes appears as if everyone is drinking, or at least thinking about drinking. Lots of teens have decided or figured out that they don’t have to drink alcohol to have fun or to fit in. Many know the dangers of drinking alcohol and choose to wait until they are 21. Whatever your reason, saying no to alcohol can be easier when you know why you are refusing it and how to say it.

Here are a few examples how other teens have said “No”:

“No way! My parents would ground me for life!”
“Nah. My coach would kick me off the team if he found out.”
“No thanks. I just got my driver’s license and I’d like to keep it.”
“Not for me. Life is hard enough and I don’t need another challenge!”
“Nope. I’ve got other things to do than to get into a whole lot of trouble!”

Find your own unique voice and reason for refusing alcohol!

Being pressured by others to do something you don’t want to do can make a person feel stressed. Who can you turn to and talk about the pressure you might be feeling? There are lots of caring adults (and friends) that you can turn to, including:

  • your parents
  • teachers
  • coaches
  • family members
  • counselors

Think about the people around you who you trust. Reach out to them if you need help.

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