Author: Lourdes Valenzuela: : Leon High School senior and Pumphrey Law Firm intern
The average age for a first alcoholic drink in the United States is 13 years old. One may be thinking: “Why so young?” As a senior at Leon High School in Tallahassee, Florida, I will attempt to answer that troubling question. For a high school student, the need to feel accepted is fundamental in our everyday lives. This helps us understand peer pressure better and how it relates to drinking.
The psychological reasoning behind peer pressure is that everyone wants to feel accepted due to a fear of rejection. Psychologists have deduced that being part of any group helps anyone feel safe, protected and connected. There is an interesting connection between those who give into peer pressure and people who suffer from social anxiety. These individuals tend to navigate through their days with the fear of being socially rejected so in order to avoid exclusion, they feel the need to please most people.
Even if a person doesn’t intend on associating themselves with alcohol, they could still be surrounding themselves with temptations. Temptations could be health, family and even environmental factors. From a health standpoint, an inclination towards drinking could point to mental health issues. Alcohol only alleviates the symptoms temporarily; alcohol is not a healthy remedy or solution. Family could have an impact. If a family member drinks, since a majority of time is spent at home with family, the student is in the position of being influenced, surrounded by temptation.
Alcohol is portrayed in television shows and soap operas as a means to “relax”. A person that has an abnormal amount of stress oftentimes turn to alcohol, again to temporarily reduce the amount of stress they seemingly cannot cope with anymore. This is a temporary solution and alcohol often enhances the real, underlying problems.
Alcohol abuse can potentially create a domino effect on a young adult’s life. Since alcohol can take charge of the brain and health, it can have a negative impact on the person’s education. The student will soon find it difficult to remember important things, will have trouble concentrating in the classroom environment, and will spend less amount of time in the classrooms because of health issues. The majority of high school dropouts have had some involvement with alcohol or illegal drugs.
Alcohol is able to penetrate the brain barrier therefore being able to touch the actual brain cells. Alcohol is not only a depressant that influences the part of the brain that controls inhibitions but it is also a factor that negatively affects brain development. Alcohol inhibits awareness, clouds judgment, causes a loss of consciousness, and leads to clumsiness. Since the brain doesn’t stop developing until the mid 20s, drinking at an early age can cause the brain to not develop properly, especially for the duration nature intended.
When alcohol begins to have a negative impact on someone’s daily life, many serious health problems can develop. High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, depression, anxiety and even cancer are just a few of many.  Excessive and irresponsible alcohol consumption is responsible for 88,000 deaths in the U.S.  Alcohol abuse has its own social consequences; drinking and driving, violence, suicide and sex crimes and if a person is not educated on it or mature enough, it can take control of their life.
Intern at Pumphrey Law Firm
Leon High School class of 2017
 Dallas, Mary Elizabeth. “Drug, Alcohol Abuse More Likely Among High School Dropouts.” HealthDay. N.p., 19 Feb. 2013. Web.
“Fact Sheets – Alcohol Use and Your Health.” CDC. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 25 July 2016. Web.
 Alcohol-Impaired Driving.” NHTSA’s, 2014. Web.