Don’t be a Follower

Consequences of Underage Drug Use & Drinking


Gavin Fanelli

Influences Teens Face: Substances that can cause negative effects on teens, October 19, 2022.

           Underage drug use and drinking comes with consequences. There is no single reason to explain why teenagers use drugs or alcohol. However research has shown the core issues and influences behind these types of behaviors. 

           Teens see many people consuming various substances. As a teen’s social group grows, so does their social scene, which can involve drinking or the use of drugs. Sometimes friends urge one another to have a drink or smoke pot, but it’s just as common for teens to start trying a substance because it’s readily available and they see all their friends “enjoying it.” In their minds, they see drug use as a part of the normal teenage experience.

           Health teacher Mr. Jeffrey Raucci states, “Three reasons and factors that influence under age drug use: 

  1. Associate it with being a “norm” in society and give in to peer pressure when they see others partaking in it.
  2. Not fully understanding the physical and mental effects that it can have on the body. 
  3. Underestimating decisions that will affect themselves long-term.”

           Vaping has gotten much more popular among teens in the past few years. These vaping pens contain a lot of nicotine, which is very addictive. Getting addicted to nicotine can make it harder for teenagers to focus and concentrate. 

           Officer Nicole Burrell, the SRO at East Haven High School states, “Using drugs, especially vape pens and smoking marijuana, contain so many chemicals you don’t even realize. And we still don’t know the side effects from these chemicals since vaping has become more popular in recent years.” 

           One confirmed side effect is cancer, which is caused by these chemicals and reports of lung problems connected to vaping. And like a domino effect, vaping can make teenagers more likely to start smoking regular cigarettes. Addiction to nicotine from vaping can be more serious than addiction to regular cigarettes. 

           An online article posted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “Among youth who currently used e-cigarettes, more than one in four (27.6%) used them daily and more than four in 10 (42.3%) used them on 20 or more of the past 30 days.”

           If teen drug use wasn’t enough to talk about, teens also feel pressure to consume alcohol at a young age. Influences such as peer pressure, stress, genetics and social/environmental factors play a huge role in the decision making process. Consuming alcohol during one’s teenage years can have negative effects on brain development. Then, these effects can contribute to the development of adult health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep disorders. 

           Raucci also adds, “Alcohol poisoning can lead to long term damage to vital organs in the body (liver, kidneys, heart), disrupts growth of human brain and gray matter in the brain (deals with processing information and memory), short term dangers of alcohol poisoning are feeling sick, vomiting, and even death.”

           In Connecticut, underage drinking and driving is a criminal offense. A DUI (Driving Under the Influence) can stay on a record for up to 10 years. But the worst case scenario is harming oneself or others.

           The teenage years can often be challenging and stressful, but whatever difficulties a teen may be facing, there is help available and there are healthier, more effective ways of resolving them. 

           The first step is to reach out.