Beer, wine, and liquor are the most commonly known alcohol products. All of these contain an intoxicating ingredient called ethyl alcohol, or ethanol. When consuming alcohol it affects the entire body, depressing the central nervous system and impairing behavior, decision-making and physical coordination. Alcohol use is illegal in Colorado for those under age 21, and yet 59 percent of youth under 21 say they have had at least one drink in their lifetime.
We often see alcohol in the media and it is often advertised in ways that make it appear harmless and fun. This kind of marketing appeals to youth and young adults. In advertising some alcoholic beverages, also known as “alcopops” are sold in colorful, single-serve bottles that look like energy drinks, juices, or soft drinks, which can be misleading. There are other alcoholic products such as powdered alcohol that may even be packaged to resemble candy. As a parent or caregiver, it’s important to recognize these products and have a conversation with your children about these differences and the health effects alcohol products can have on a young person who is still developing and growing.
Being aware of how alcohol is portrayed in the media such as people using alcohol on television and in movies are also widespread and a good opportunity to start a conversation, as are branded materials like T-shirts, hats and toys, which can have a significant impact and increase the likelihood of underage drinking.
Because alcohol is seemingly everywhere, many adults may think it is less dangerous than marijuana, prescription medications or other drugs. Some may even allow their children to consume alcohol in certain situations. But the dangers of underage alcohol consumption cannot be overstated. Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance among youths, contributing to the death of over 4,300 young people each year.