Randolph County teens need our help to put an end to underage drinking.
About 35% of Randolph County 8th-12th graders say they have used alcohol in the last 30 days, well more than other Illinois teens. Additionally, more Randolph County teens reported that they had engaged in binge drinking in the past two weeks compared to the the rest of our state. That’s an alarming difference that impacts the future of our community.
As parents, neighbors, coaches, employers and family members, we know that our teens deserve a bright future. We are responsible for making sure teens in Randolph County are making the best choices for their future, and for the future of our community.
We are ready to make sure Randolph County teens are under our influence – not the influence of alcohol.
Why prevent underage drinking? The quality of Randolph County teens’ lives is on the line. Not only can underage drinking cause brain damage, it can have lasting consequences in the form of addiction, behavioral problems, and trouble with the law.
Brain DamageAmong the Randolph County 12th graders who have used alcohol, their first sip of alcohol occurred around age 14 and they “began drinking alcohol regularly” around age 15.
At 14 and 15 (and even at 18), teens’ brains aren’t even close to being fully developed. The earlier the brain is exposed to alcohol, the higher the risk for brain damage. Teens who’ve been drinking heavier and longer can have a harder time learning new things, memorizing important information and storing knowledge. Brain damage early on means that teens might never catch up in adulthood, setting them back in their relationships and careers.
Under the influence of alcohol, teens also may act without thinking or become violent toward themselves or others. As the brain develops during the teenage years, it is forming an adult personality and adult behaviors. Damage from alcohol during these years can cause severe behavioral and personality changes that can be long term or permanent.
AddictionAccording to the Illinois Youth Survey State report, almost four out of 10 Illinois 12th graders who have ever used alcohol may be at risk for alcohol abuse or dependence later in life. Teens in our community are even more of a risk for developing alcoholism
- In our area, 58% of 10th graders and 51% of 12th graders reported using alcohol at or before age 15. Additionally, 22% of 10th graders and 18% of 12th graders were drinking alcohol regularly by age 15.
Early use is associated with alcohol dependence in adulthood, so Randolph County teens are at a higher risk for abuse or dependence later in life.
- About 40% of individuals who report drinking before 15 years old develop alcohol dependence, which is four times more than those who don’t drink before they’re 21.
- People who start drinking at age 13 have a 45% chance of developing alcohol dependence. Even for those who drink at age 17, there’s still a 26% chance of alcohol addition.
No one is immune to addiction.
While the exact cause of alcohol addiction isn’t known, alcohol dependency is connected to chemical changes in the brain that increase the pleasurable feelings you get when you drink alcohol. With enough alcohol, a teen’s still-developing brain can easily be changed, causing them to drink more to chase those good feelings until they become dependent on alcohol to get through the day.
Anyone can develop alcoholism, but the following things can put teens at a greater risk for alcohol addiction:
- Experiencing peer pressure
- Having low self-esteem
- Experiencing high levels of stress
- Having close relatives who struggle with alcohol use
- Living in a family or culture where alcohol use is common and accepted
There are many things we as adult influencers can do to help teens in our family and community avoid being at risk for an alcohol addiction, including:
- Helping teens deal with peer pressure or stress
- Listening to and encouraging teens to make wise choices
- Showing that your family and our community do not accept underage alcohol use
Read more about alcohol addiction here.
Underage drinking is associated with property destruction, risky sexual behavior, poor academic performance, violent/aggressive behavior, perpetrating and/or being a victim of sexual assault, illicit drug use, and death.
The effects of alcohol are impacting teens in our community.
During or after drinking alcohol, Randolph County 10th-12th graders reported that:
- 7% performed poorly on a test or important project
- 12% got in trouble with the police
- 15% damaged property
- 27% got into an argument or fight
- 18% were hurt or injured
- 5% were the victim of a violent crime.
Teens who drink are also at a higher risk for developing mental illness and attempting suicide.
- Among 12- to 17-year-olds who are current drinkers, 31 percent show extreme levels of mental distress, and 39% show serious behavioral problems.
- 12- to 16-year-old girls who drink are four times more likely to experience depression.
- Of eighth-grade girls who drink heavily, 37 percent report attempting suicide.
- Suicide attempts among heavy-drinking teens are three to four times greater than among nondrinkers.
The Illinois law is strict when it comes to underage drinking. Any person under 21 who possesses, consumes, transports, or purchases (or has someone else purchase) alcohol is committing a crime.
Get familiar with the penalties that Randolph County teens could incur if they are caught with alcohol by law enforcement.
- Possession, consumption, purchase, or receipt of alcohol by an individual under the age of 21 years of age:
3-month suspension of driving privileges for court supervision, 6 mos. for first conviction, 1 year for second conviction, and license revocation for subsequent convictions.
- Illegal transportation of alcohol in an automobile by an individual under the age of 21: Transporting alcohol is illegal, and anyone in the vehicle can be charged with a maximum $1,000 fine. For the driver, the penalty is mandatory driver’s license suspension for one year on the first offense, and mandatory one-year revocation for subsequent offenses.
Driving under the influence
Illinois law has a zero tolerance, “Use It And Lose It” policy when it comes to drinking and driving, especially for those under 21. If a teen has any alcohol in their blood while driving a vehicle, they can be punished for driving under the influence with one of the following:
- 1st OFFENSE: Three-month suspension of driving privileges; six-month suspension with refusal of alcohol testing.
- 2nd OFFENSE (before age 21): One-year suspension of driver’s license; two-year suspension with refusal of testing.
If a teen has a blood alcohol content of at least .08%, other drugs in view of the officer, or refuses to submit to alcohol or drug testing, they can be arrested and suffer the following:
- 1st OFFENSE: Six-month suspension of driving privileges; one-year suspension with refusal of testing.
- 2nd OFFENSE (within 5 years): One-year suspension of driving privileges; three-year suspension with refusal of testing. No driving relief possible.
Drunk driving in Randolph County?
In 2016, 10% of 10th graders and 24% of 12th graders reported that they drove a car or other vehicle at least once while under the influence of alcohol. Not only did this behavior put each of those children at risk, it also endangered the lives of countless other members of our community who were out on the roads with them.
There are laws for adults providing alcohol to minors, too!
Did you know providing alcohol to an individual under the age of 21 is breaking the law? You can get a maximum fine of $2,500 and up to a year in jail for a misdemeanor offense. A felony offense can result in a prison sentence of a year or more and fines up to $25,000.
Did you know that knowingly allowing underage drinking to occur at your private residence can result in a $500 minimum fine (with a maximum $2,500 fine and up to one year in jail)? Plus, if serious injury or death occurs because of this incident, you could be subject to a Class 4 felony (up to three years in prison and fines up to $25,000).
Read more about these laws here.